University of Oulu

Association of respiratory syncytial virus infection with asthma and atopic allergy

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Author: Juntti, Hanna1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
2University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Paediatrics
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2008
Publish Date: 2008-06-03
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented, with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Oulu, for public defence in Auditorium 12 of the Department of Paediatrics, on June 13th, 2008, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Professor Matti Korppi
Professor Olli Ruuskanen


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection may be associated with the development of asthma and atopy. The aim of the present study was to investigate this association and the related immunological mechanisms.

Seventy-six children admitted to Oulu University Hospital in 1991–1994 for an RSV infection at an age of less than 12 months and healthy controls were called for a visit at the age of 6–10 years. Twenty subjects (26%) had asthma compared with 12 controls (16%) (difference 11%, 95% confidence interval (CI) –3% to 24%). Asthma had been diagnosed significantly earlier in the subjects. Eight per cent of the subjects had at least one positive skin prick test as compared with 43% of the controls (difference –35%, 95% CI –50% to –19%). Serum concentrations of interferon-γ and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule -1 were significantly higher among the subjects than among the controls and among the subjects with asthma or current wheezing than among the corresponding controls.

All children born in Finland in 1986–1995 were arranged in birth cohorts by month and year of birth and grouped by exposure to an RSV epidemic at age 0–6 months, resulting in 97 exposed and 23 unexposed cohorts. The proportions of children taking asthma medication or receiving special reimbursement for asthma medication in 1995–2002 were similar in the unexposed and exposed cohorts.

Altogether 47 children born between August and November 2001 with a cord blood sample taken were admitted to hospital (n = 26) or seen in an outpatient department (n = 21) for RSV infection before the age of six months. Twenty-eight children had some other respiratory viral infection and 84 children formed a group of healthy controls. High scores on a factor combining the cord blood interleukin-6 and interleukin-8 responses (as derived by factor analysis) were shown in logistic regression analysis to predict hospitalization for RSV infection by comparison with the healthy controls (odds ratio 2.29, 95% CI 1.21 to 4.33).

We suggest that RSV does not induce asthma but inborn features of immunity affect the severity of RSV infection and the postinfectious development of asthma.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 978-951-42-8794-7
ISBN Print: 978-951-42-8793-0
Issue: 969
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2008. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.