Viral colds are an important cause of respiratory symptoms in normal children. Studies in adults suggest that inflammation in the lower respiratory tract is associated with viral colds, but there are no data regarding inflammation and viral infection in the lower airway of normal children with colds. We, therefore, studied the lower airway of two groups of children: Group I, those with active coryzal symptoms and a respiratory virus isolated from bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF); and Group II: asymptomatic children who had had a clinical cold within the previous 2 weeks and no respiratory virus in BALF. Both groups were compared to age- and weight-matched normal noninfected controls, who had had no coryzal symptoms for at least 8 weeks. Viruses isolated from BALF of Group I (n = 7) were: respiratory syncytial virus (n = 2), rhinovirus (n = 3), parainfluenza I (n = 1), and echovirus 11 (n = 1). Compared to normal controls, Group I had an increased BALF lymphocyte and neutrophil differential count (P < 0.05), a concomitant depressed alveolar macrophage differential count (P < 0.05), and increased BALF concentrations of soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) (P < 0.05, n = 6), total protein (P < 0.05, n = 6) and albumin (P < 0.05, n = 7). Similar changes were seen in Group II (n = 22), with an increased BALF neutrophil (P < 0.05) and lymphocyte (P < 0.01) differential count, and increased concentrations of sICAM-1 (P < 0.01, n = 15), total protein (P < 0.0001, n = 9) and albumin (P = 0.05, n = 17). Our results suggest that inflammation and viral infection in the lower airway are present during active colds, and that inflammation is also present during the convalescent period.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.