The Role of Respiratory Viruses in Children with Ataxia-Telangiectasia

Viruses. 2021 May 9;13(5):867. doi: 10.3390/v13050867.


Background: The impact of respiratory virus infection in patients diagnosed with ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) has not been well studied.

Methods: A prospective case control study was performed at a National Reference Unit for Primary Immunodeficiency in Spain (from November 2018 to July 2019), including patients younger than 20 years. Symptom questionnaires and nasopharyngeal swabs from multiple respiratory viruses' polymerase chain reaction were collected monthly, and between visits in case of symptoms.

Results: Twenty-two individuals were included (11 patients; 11 controls); 164 samples were obtained (81 patients; 84 controls). Patients presented respiratory symptoms more frequently compared with controls (26.5% vs. 3.5%; p < 0.01). Viral detection was observed in 23 (27.3%) episodes in patients and in 15 (17.8%) episodes in controls (p = 0.1). Rhinovirus was the most frequent virus in patients and controls (60% and 53.3%, respectively). Episodes with positive viral detection had associated symptoms in 54% of patients and 18% of controls (p = 0.07). However, patients with A-T presented a similar rate of symptoms during episodes with positive and negative viral detection (26% vs. 27%). The median points given for each questionnaire during symptomatic episodes with negative viral detection were 13/23 points, and during symptomatic positive detection, 7.5/23 points (p = 0.1). In the control group, all but two were asymptomatic during positive viral episodes (score: 2/23 and 3/23 points). Symptomatic episodes, with either positive or negative viral detection, were associated with lower IgA and higher IgM titers and higher CD8+ counts (p < 0.05), particularly when these episodes were moderate/severe.

Conclusions: Patients with A-T more frequently present symptomatic viral infections than controls, especially those with lower IgA and higher IgM titers and higher CD8+ counts.

Keywords: ataxia-telangiectasia; primary immunodeficiency diseases; respiratory tract infections; rhinovirus; viruses.