Korean J Asthma Allergy Clin Immunol.  2009 Mar;29(1):10-18.

Respiratory Syncutial Virus Infection Induced Airway Hyperresponsiveness


Respiratory viruses are known to play a role in the inception of asthma early in life. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of infant bronchiolitis, which is associated with the development of childhood wheezing and asthma-like phenotype. METHOD: Animal models have played a pivotal role in studying the pathophysiology of viral respiratory infections. Various approaches to assessment of airway inflammation and function have been used to elucidate the mechanisms of RSV-induced airway hyperresponsiveness and to address clinically relevant questions regarding the role of RSV in wheezing and asthma after bronchiolitis. RESULT: Animal studies demonstrated that RSV induced airway hyperresponsiveness and enhanced allergen-sensitization in the host. This altered airway function is mediated through immune and neurogenic inflammatory mechanisms. Recent studies in mice have shown that neonatal RSV infection sensitizes the newborn to develop an asthma-like phenotype on reinfection, providing further opportunities to investigate the role of RSV in postbronchiolitis wheezing and asthma in animal models.
Further studies are needed to fully establish the mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of RSV infections and to clarify the role of RSV infections in the inception and/or progression of chronic airway diseases such as asthma.

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