The aim of this study was to evaluate cytokine secretion in children with acute Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection and wheeze. We studied 25 patients aged 2-14 years with an acute episode of wheezing (15 with acute M. pneumoniae infection) and 16 healthy controls of similar gender and age (8 with laboratory evidence of asymptomatic acute M. pneumoniae infection). Serum interleukin (IL)-2, interferon (IFN)-gamma, IL-4, and IL-5 concentrations were measured in samples obtained at enrollment, using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits. In the presence of wheezing, IL-5 concentrations were significantly higher in subjects with acute M. pneumoniae infection (33.415 +/- 22.138 pg/mL) than in those without such infection (2.320 +/- 1.846 pg/mL, P < 0.0001). The children with acute M. pneumoniae infection and wheeze had higher IL-5 concentrations (33.415+/-22.138 pg/mL) than those with asymptomatic acute infection and without wheeze (1.740 +/- 2.299 pg/mL, P < 0.0001). No significant between-group differences were observed in terms of IL-2, IFN-gamma, or IL-4 levels, or the prevalence of atopy. Our results show that children with wheezing and acute M. pneumoniae infection have a specific cytokine profile characterized by a significant increase in serum levels of IL-5. This immune response may be important for understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms by which this pathogen contributes to the development of wheeze-related symptoms, and for identifying new treatment strategies.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.