Respiratory Virology

Lab head: Dr Brian Oliver
Location: Woolcock Institute of Medical Research & the discipline of Pharmacology

We all suffer from the common cold, but the viruses that cause the symptoms of the common cold can be potentially life threatening to certain people. The reason why the common cold virus, rhinovirus, is potentially life threatening is that it is responsible for the majority of exacerbations of chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The respiratory virology lab investigates why lung cells from people with chronic respiratory diseases respond differently when infected with common respiratory viruses.

Funding: NH&MRC


  1. Oliver,B., Tomita,K., Keller,A., Caramori,G., Adcock,I., Chung,K.F., Barnes,P.J., and Lim,S. (2001) Low-dose theophylline does not exert its anti-inflammatory effects in mild asthma through upregulation of interleukin-10 in alveolar macrophages. Allergy, 56, 1087-1090.
  2. Oliver BG, Black JL: Airway smooth muscle and asthma. Allergol Int 55: 215-223, 2006. 
  3. Oliver BG, Johnston SL, Baraket M, Burgess JK, King NJ, Roth M, Lim S, Black JL: Increased proinflammatory responses from asthmatic human airway smooth muscle cells in response to rhinovirus infection. Resp Res 7:71, 2006.
  4. Oliver BG, Lim S, Wark P, Laza-Stanca V, King N, Black JL, Burgess JK, Roth M, Johnston SL: Rhinovirus exposure impairs immune responses to bacterial products in human alveolar macrophages. Thorax 63: 519-525, 2008. 
  5. Weckman M, Trian, T and Oliver, B. Reconstruction is not renovation - the role of remodeling in asthma. Journal of Asthma and Allergy, in press. Accepted 21 Nov 2008.   
  6. *Sacha Stelzer-Braid  , *Brian G Oliver, Angus J Blazey , Elizabeth Argent, Timothy P Newsome, William D Rawlinson , Euan R Tovey. *These authors contributed equally.Exhalation of respiratory viruses by breathing, coughing and talking. Journal of Medical Virology accepted 23rdApril 2009.
  7. Thomas TRIAN1,2, Qi Ge1,2, Lyn M. MOIR 1,2, Janette K. Burgess1,2, Curtis Kuo1 , Nicholas J.C. KING3 , Helen K. REDDEL2, Judith L. Black1,2, *Brian G. Oliver1, 2, and *Brent E. Mc PARLAND1 *joint senior author.  American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, accepted 21st August 2009. 
  8. Janette K. Burgess, Sarah Boustany, Lyn M Moir, Markus Weckmann, Justine Y. Lau, Karryn Grafton, Melissa Baraket, Philip M. Hansbro, Nicole G. Hansbro, Paul S. Foster, Judith L. Black and Brian G. Oliver. The reduction of Tumstatin asthmatic airways may contribute to angiogenesis, inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness.Am J Respir.Crit Care Med accepted September 2009 
  9. TGFbeta1 induces IL-6 and inhibits IL-8 release in human bronchial epithelial cells-the role of SMAD2/3..Ge Q, Moir LM, Black JL, *Oliver BG, *Burgess JK.*joint senior authorJ Cell Physiol. 2010 Jul 6  
  10. Aaron,J.E., Oliver,B., Clarke,N., and Carter,D.H. (1999) Calcified microspheres as biological entities and their isolation from bone. Histochem.J, 31, 455-470. 
  11. Lim,S., Roche,N., Oliver,B.G., Mattos,W., Barnes,P.J., and Chung,K.F. (2000) Balance of matrix metalloprotease-9 and tissue inhibitor of metalloprotease-1 from alveolar macrophages in cigarette smokers. Regulation by interleukin-10. Am J Respir.Crit Care Med., 162, 1355-1360. 
  12. Lim,S., Tomita,K., Caramori,G., Jatakanon,A., Oliver,B., Keller,A., Adcock,I., Chung,K.F., and Barnes,P.J. (2001) Low-dose theophylline reduces eosinophilic inflammation but not exhaled nitric oxide in mild asthma. Am J Respir.Crit Care Med., 164, 273-276. 
  13. Huntriss,J., Gosden,R., Hinkins,M., Oliver,B., Miller,D., Rutherford,A.J., and Picton,H.M. (2002) Isolation, characterization and expression of the human Factor In the Germline alpha (FIGLA) gene in ovarian follicles and oocytes. Mol Hum.Reprod., 8, 1087-1095. 
  14. Bolger,A.P., Sharma,R., von,H.S., Doehner,W., Oliver,B., Rauchhaus,M., Coats,A.J., Adcock,I.M., and Anker,S.D. (2002) Effect of interleukin-10 on the production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha by peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with chronic heart failure. Am J Cardiol., 90, 384-389. 
  15. Roche,N., Stirling,R.G., Lim,S., Oliver,B.G., Oates,T., Jazrawi,E., Caramori,G., and Chung,K.F. (2003) Effect of acute and chronic inflammatory stimuli on expression of protease-activated receptors 1 and 2 in alveolar macrophages. J Allergy Clin.Immunol, 111, 367-373. 
  16. Roche,N., Stirling,R.G., Lim,S., Oliver,B.G., and Chung,K.F. (2003) Regulation of protease-activated receptor-1 in mononuclear cells by neutrophil proteases. Respir.Med., 97, 228-233. 
  17. Huntriss,J., Hinkins,M., Oliver,B., Harris,S.E., Beazley,J.C., Rutherford,A.J., Gosden,R.G., Lanzendorf,S.E., and Picton,H.M. (2004) Expression of mRNAs for DNA methyltransferases and methyl-CpG-binding proteins in the human female germ line, preimplantation embryos, and embryonic stem cells. Mol Reprod.Dev., 67, 323-336. 
  18. Sharma,R., von,H.S., Rauchhaus,M., Bolger,A.P., Genth-Zotz,S., Doehner,W., Oliver,B., Poole-Wilson,P.A., Volk,H.D., Coats,A.J., Adcock,I.M., and Anker,S.D. (2005) Whole blood endotoxin responsiveness in patients with chronic heart failure: the importance of serum lipoproteins. Eur.J Heart Fail., 7: 479-484. 
  19. Black JL, Ge Q, Boustany S, Johnson PR, Poniris MH, Glanville AR, Oliver BG, Moir LM, Burgess JK: In vitro studies of lymphangioleiomyomatosis. Eur Respir J 26: 569-576, 2005. 
  20. Burgess JK, Oliver BG, Poniris MH, Ge Q, Boustany S, Cox N, Moir LM, Johnson PR, Black JL: A phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor inhibits matrix protein deposition in airways in vitro. J Allergy Clin Immun 118: 649-657, 2006. 
  21. Matsumoto H, Moir LM, Oliver BG, Burgess JK, Roth M, Black JL, McParland BE: Comparison of gel contraction mediated by asthmatic and non-asthmatic airway smooth muscle cells. Thorax 62:848-854, 2007. 
  22. Ammit AJ, Moir LM, Oliver BG, Hughes JM, Alkhouri H, Ge Q, Burgess JK, Black JL, Roth M: Effect of IL-6 trans-signaling on the pro-remodeling phenotype of airway smooth muscle. Am J Physiol-Lung C 292: L199-L206, 2007. 
  23. Huynh KN, Oliver BG, Stelzer S, Rawlinson WD, Tovey ER: A new method for sampling and detection of exhaled respiratory virus aerosols. Clin Infect Dis 46: 93-95, 2008.  
  24. Burgess JK, Ceresa C, Johnson SR, Kanabar V, Moir LM, Nguyen TT, Oliver BG, Schuliga M, Ward J: Tissue and matrix influences on airway smooth muscle function. Pulm Pharmacol Ther, 2008 Dec 24. [Epub ahead of print]. 
  25. Krimmer DI, Loseli M, Hughes JM, Oliver BGG, Moir LM, Hunt NH, Black JL, Burgess JK (2009) CD40 and OX40 ligand are differentially regulated on asthmatic airway smooth muscle.  Allergy, 2009 Feb 12. [Epub ahead of print].   
  26. Satoru Fukuyama, Takako Nakano,Takafumi Matsumoto, Brian G.G. Oliver,Janette K. Burgess, Atsushi Moriwaki, Kentaro Tanaka, Masato Kubo, Tomoaki Hoshino, Hiroyuki Tanaka, Andrew N.J. McKenzie, Koichiro Matsumoto,1 Hisamichi Aizawa, Yoichi Nakanishi, Akihiko Yoshimura, Judith L. Black, Hiromasa Inoue. Pulmonary suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS)-1 induced by IL-13 regulates allergic asthmatic phenotype.  Am J Respir.Crit Care Med 2009 Jun 1;179(11):992-8. Epub 2009 Mar 19. 
  27. Judith Black, Brian G Oliver, Michael Roth. Molecular mechanisms of combination therapy with inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists.  Chest, 2009 136(4):1095-100. Review.
  28. Seidel P, Merfort I, Hughes JM, Oliver BGG, Tamm M, Roth M. Dimethylfumarate inhibits NFkB function at multiple levels to limit airway smooth muscle cell cytokine secretion.  American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology 2009 Aug;297(2):L326-39. Epub 2009 May 22. 
  29. Justine Y. Lau, Brian G. Oliver, Lyn M. Moir, Judith L. Black, Janette K. Burgess Differential expression of peroxisome proliferator activated receptor γ and cyclin D1 does not affect proliferation of asthma and non-asthma derived airway smooth muscle cells.  Respirology 2010 Feb;15(2):303-12. Epub 2010 Jan 11.


Why do asthma therapeutics stop working when people have a cold?

Primary supervisor: Brian Oliver


Asthma exacerbations are characterised by worsening asthma symptoms and a fall in lung function.  Exacerbations can be mild, however a large proportion are life threatening and require hospitalisation. In NSW alone there were 22,942 emergency department visits for asthma in 2007, of which 42% were admitted to hospital.  Rhinovirus (RV), which causes the majority of common colds, is responsible for at least half of all asthma exacerbations.


Whilst asthma medications, such as steroids and β2 agonists, reduce the frequency of exacerbations they do not completely stop virus induced exacerbations from occurring.  This project will determine the molecular events initiated by rhinovirus which result in impaired therapeutic action.




Cell culture, immunoprecipitation, western blotting, fluorescence microscopy

Discipline: Pharmacology