Chronic heat stress (CHS) can negatively affect immune response in animals. In this study we assessed the effects of CHS on host innate immunity and avian influenza virus H5N1 infection in mice. Mice were divided into two groups: CHS and thermally neutral (TN). The CHS treatment group exhibited reduced local immunity in the respiratory tract, including the number of pulmonary alveolar macrophages and lesions in the nasal mucosa, trachea, and lungs. Meanwhile, CHS retarded dendritic cells (DCs) maturation and reduced the mRNA levels of IL-6 and IFN-β significantly (P < .05). After the CHS treatment, mice were infected with H5N1 virus. The mortality rate and viral load in the lungs of CHS group were higher than those of TN group. The results suggest that the CHS treatment could suppress local immunity in the respiratory tract and innate host immunity in mice significantly and moderately increased the virulence in H5N1-infected mice
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