Systemic T-helper and T-regulatory cell type cytokine responses in rhinovirus vs. respiratory syncytial virus induced early wheezing: an observational study

Respir Res. 2009 Sep 25;10(1):85. doi: 10.1186/1465-9921-10-85.


Background: Rhinovirus (RV) associated early wheezing has been recognized as an independent risk factor for asthma. The risk is more important than that associated with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) disease. No comparative data are available on the immune responses of these diseases.

Objective: To compare T-helper1 (Th1), Th2 and T-regulatory (Treg) cell type cytokine responses between RV and RSV induced early wheezing.

Methods: Systemic Th1-type (interferon [IFN] -gamma, interleukin [IL] -2, IL-12), Th2-type (IL-4, IL-5, IL-13) and Treg-type (IL-10) cytokine responses were studied from acute and convalescence phase serum samples of sole RV (n = 23) and RSV affected hospitalized wheezing children (n = 27). The pre-defined inclusion criteria were age of 3-35 months and first or second wheezing episode. Analysis was adjusted for baseline differences. Asymptomatic children with comparable demographics (n = 11) served as controls for RV-group.

Results: RV-group was older and had more atopic characteristics than RSV-group. At acute phase, RV-group had higher (fold change) IL-13 (39-fold), IL-12 (7.5-fold), IFN-gamma (6.0-fold) and IL-5 (2.8-fold) concentrations than RSV-group and higher IFN-gamma (27-fold), IL-2 (8.9-fold), IL-5 (5.6-fold) and IL-10 (2.6-fold) than the controls. 2-3 weeks later, RV-group had higher IFN-gamma (>100-fold), IL-13 (33-fold) and IL-10 (6.5-fold) concentrations than RSV-group and higher IFN-gamma (15-fold) and IL-2 (9.4-fold) than the controls. IL-10 levels were higher in acute phase compared to convalescence phase in both infections (p < 0.05 for all).

Conclusion: Our results support a hypothesis that RV is likely to trigger wheezing mainly in children with a predisposition. IL-10 may have important regulatory function in acute viral wheeze.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child, Preschool
  • Common Cold / immunology
  • Common Cold / pathology
  • Common Cold / virology
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Respiratory Sounds / immunology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / immunology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / pathology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / virology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / physiology*
  • Rhinovirus / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • Cytokines