Predominant type-2 response in infants with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection demonstrated by cytokine flow cytometry

Clin Exp Immunol. 2000 Aug;121(2):332-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2249.2000.01297.x.


Acute RSV infection in infancy may produce some asthma-like symptoms and may be followed by a recurrent wheeze later in childhood. It has been proposed that RSV infection stimulates type-2 cytokine responses, resembling those found in atopy and asthma. Peripheral blood cells were obtained from RSV-infected infants (n = 30) and healthy controls (n = 10). After in vitro restimulation of the cells, intracellular IL-4 and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) were measured by flow cytometry. The cells from RSV-infected infants produced more IL-4 and less IFN-gamma than those from healthy controls. IL-4 production was more frequent in CD8 than in CD4 cells, and the bias toward IL-4 production was greatest in infants with mild infections, whereas IFN-gamma production increased with disease severity. Our conclusions are that RSV infection is associated with IL-4 production in peripheral T cells, and that peripheral blood in infants with severe disease may be depleted of cytokine-producing cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interferon-gamma / blood*
  • Interleukin-4 / blood*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Male
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / blood
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / virology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / isolation & purification
  • Th2 Cells / immunology*
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism


  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma