Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common cause of severe lower respiratory tract infection in infants. Only a proportion of children infected with RSV require hospitalization. Because known risk factors for severe disease, such as premature birth, cannot fully explain differences in disease severity, genetic factors have been implicated.
Methods: To study the complexity of RSV susceptibility and to identify the genes and biological pathways involved in its development, we performed a genetic association study involving 470 children hospitalized for RSV bronchiolitis, their parents, and 1008 random, population controls. We analyzed 384 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 220 candidate genes involved in airway mucosal responses, innate immunity, chemotaxis, adaptive immunity, and allergic asthma.
Results: SNPs in the innate immune genes VDR (rs10735810; P=.0017), JUN (rs11688; P=.0093), IFNA5 (rs10757212; P=.0093), and NOS2 (rs1060826; P=.0031) demonstrated the strongest association with bronchiolitis. Apart from association at the allele level, these 4 SNPs also demonstrated association at the genotype level (P=.0056, P=.0285, P=.0372, and P=.0117 for the SNPs in VDR, JUN, IFNA5, and NOS2, respectively). The role of innate immunity as a process was reinforced by association of the whole group of innate immune SNPs when the global test for groups of genes was applied (P=.046).
Conclusion: SNPs in innate immune genes are important in determining susceptibility to RSV bronchiolitis.