Respiratory syncytial virus and other respiratory viruses during the first 3 months of life promote a local TH2-like response

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 Oct;116(4):805-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2005.07.012.


Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections during infancy are considered to be a risk factor for developing asthma and possibly allergic sensitization.

Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the cytokines, chemokines, and eosinophil cationic protein in the nasopharyngeal secretions of infants < or = 7 months of age with RSV infections or other respiratory viral infections and healthy infants as controls. Groups were also analyzed according to age, < or = 3 months and >3 months, and the levels were compared within and between groups.

Results: Thirty-nine infants with RSV, 9 with influenza or parainfluenza virus infections and 50 controls with no history of infections, were enrolled in the study. The RSV-infected infants had significantly higher levels of IL-4; macrophage inflammatory protein 1beta, a chemoattractant for T cells; and eosinophil cationic protein in nasopharyngeal secretions compared with the control group. The levels of the TH2 cytokine IL-4 were significantly higher in RSV-infected infants < or = months of age compared with RSV-infected infants >3 months of age. In infants < or = 3 months of age, infections with influenza or parainfluenza virus caused TH2-like responses similar to those produced by RSV.

Conclusion: Infections with RSV as well as with influenza and parainfluenza virus during early infancy preferentially promote a TH2-like response in the nose with local production of IL-4, IL-5, and macrophage inflammatory protein 1beta and infiltration and activation of eosinophils.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chemokines / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Eosinophil Cationic Protein / metabolism
  • Eosinophils
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / blood
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human / immunology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human / pathogenicity*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / blood
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology*


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Eosinophil Cationic Protein
  • RNASE3 protein, human