Immunological responses to respiratory syncytial virus infection in infancy

  • Smyth R
  • Fletcher J
  • Thomas H
 et al. 
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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To determine whether there is evidence of immunological responses in infants with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis by measuring inflammatory mediators in peripheral blood and, if found, whether these related to the severity of illness. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Blood was taken from 94 children with RSV infection during the acute episode and 10 or more days later when the child was well. Control serum samples were obtained from well children of similar ages. Serum samples were assayed for mediators of lymphocyte activity (interleukin-4 (IL-4), soluble interleukin-2 receptor (sCD25), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1), eosinophil activity (eosinophil cationic protein) and neutrophil activity (myeloperoxidase). Symptoms were assessed as very mild (coryza only), mild (symptoms of lower respiratory tract infection), moderate (requiring nasogastric or intravenous fluids), and severe (requiring oxygen or ventilation). RESULTS: IL-4 concentrations were at the lower limits of detection of the assay. The concentrations of sCD-25 were greater in samples from patients with acute illness than from convalescent patients and both were greater than in control samples. sICAM-1 concentrations were similar in samples from patients with acute illness and convalescent patients, but both were greater than in samples from controls. Eosinophil cationic protein concentrations were lower in samples from patients with acute illness than in those from convalescent patients; there was no difference between samples from convalescent and control patients. Myeloperoxidase concentrations were similar in all samples. There was no correlation between the severity of infection and the concentrations of any inflammatory mediators. CONCLUSIONS: There is evidence of an inflammatory response in the peripheral blood of infants with acute bronchiolitis which may affect lymphocytes and eosinophils, but an association between this response and the severity of illness was not shown here.

Author-supplied keywords

  • bronchiolitis
  • immunological responses
  • respiratory syncytial virus

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Authors

  • R. L. Smyth

  • J. N. Fletcher

  • H. M. Thomas

  • C. A. Hart

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