Influence of respiratory syncytial virus infection on cytokine and inflammatory responses in allergic mice

Clin Exp Allergy. 2002 Mar;32(3):463-71. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2222.2002.01317.x.


Background: Th2 lymphocyte responses are associated with inflammation and disease during allergic responses. Exposure to particular environmental factors during the expression of allergy could result in more pronounced Th2-like immune responses and more severe disease. One factor might be a respiratory virus infection.

Objective: The aim of our study was to investigate the influence of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection on the expression of ovalbumin (OVA)-induced allergy in BALB/c mice.

Methods: We determined OVA-specific IgE in serum, cytokine profiles and histopathological lesions in lungs of OVA-allergic mice after RSV infection.

Results: OVA sensitization and challenge induced OVA-specific IgE in serum, Th2 cytokine mRNA expression, and mononuclear and eosinophilic inflammation in the lungs. RSV inoculation during the challenge period enhanced OVA-induced IL-4 and IL-5 mRNA expression in lung tissue. RSV further enhanced the OVA-induced hypertrophy of mucous cells and eosinophilic infiltration in lung tissue. Surprisingly, RSV infection decreased Th2 cytokine secretion and eosinophilic influx in bronchoalveolar lavage of OVA-allergic mice. Because inactivated RSV did not influence these responses, replication of RSV appeared essential for the modification of OVA-induced Th2 cytokine expression. RSV did not change OVA-specific IgE levels in serum. Furthermore, the RSV-induced IL-12 mRNA expression in lung tissue of OVA-allergic mice was diminished, but IFN-gamma mRNA expression was not affected.

Conclusion: RSV infection enhanced particular OVA-induced Th2 cytokine mRNA responses and pulmonary lesions in allergic mice and thus aggravated allergic respiratory disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Specificity / immunology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity / physiopathology
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Lung / blood supply
  • Lung / cytology
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Ovalbumin / adverse effects
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Pneumonia / immunology*
  • Pneumonia / physiopathology*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / immunology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Cytokines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Ovalbumin