Human adenovirus replication and persistence in hypertrophic adenoids and palatine tonsils in children

J Med Virol. 2019 Jul;91(7):1250-1262. doi: 10.1002/jmv.25441. Epub 2019 Mar 18.


The role of human adenovirus (HAdV) infection in different acute diseases, such as febrile exudative tonsillitis, conjunctivitis, and pharyngoconjunctival fever is well established. However, the relationships, if any, of HAdV persistence and reactivation in the development of the chronic adenotonsillar disease is not fully understood. The present paper reports a 3-year cross-sectional hospital-based study aimed at detecting and quantifying HAdV DNA and mRNA of the HAdV hexon gene in adenoid and palatine tonsil tissues and nasopharyngeal secretions (NPS) from patients with adenotonsillar hypertrophy or recurrent adenotonsillitis. HAdV C, B, and E were detectable in nearly 50% of the patients, with no association with the severity of airway obstruction, nor with the presence of recurrent tonsillitis, sleep apnea or otitis media with effusion (OME). Despite the higher rates of respiratory viral coinfections in patients with HAdV, the presence of other viruses, including DNA and RNA viruses, had no association with HAdV replication or shedding in secretions. Higher HAdV loads in adenoids showed a significant positive correlation with the presence of sleep apnea and the absence of OME. Although this study indicates that a significant proportion (~85%) of individuals with chronic adenotonsillar diseases have persistent nonproductive HAdV infection, including those by HAdV C, B, and E, epithelial and subepithelial cells in tonsils seem to be critical for HAdV C production and shedding in NPS in some patients, since viral antigen was detected in these regions by immunohistochemistry in four patients, all of which were also positive for HAdV mRNA detection.

Keywords: chronic adenotonsillar disease; hexon mRNA; human adenovirus (HAdV).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoids / pathology
  • Adenoids / virology*
  • Adenovirus Infections, Human / diagnosis
  • Adenovirus Infections, Human / virology*
  • Adenoviruses, Human / classification
  • Adenoviruses, Human / isolation & purification
  • Adenoviruses, Human / physiology
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • DNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Palatine Tonsil / pathology
  • Palatine Tonsil / virology*
  • Tonsillitis / virology
  • Virus Replication*


  • DNA, Viral