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J Infect Dis. 2007 Jun 15;195(12):1779-88. Epub 2007 May 9.

Human infant respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)-specific type 1 and 2 cytokine responses ex vivo during primary RSV infection.

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  • 1David H. Smith Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA. eunhyung_lee@urmc.rochester.edu



Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection is the most common respiratory viral infection resulting in hospitalizations in infants worldwide. Illness severity is likely multifactorial; however, unlike other viral infections, both type 1 and type 2 cytokine responses have been implicated in severe disease.


We measured RSV-specific cytokine responses ex vivo during primary RSV infection in the blood of 18 infants with polymerase chain reaction-confirmed RSV infection. To focus on primary RSV infection, subjects were all<9 months old. RSV-specific cytokine responses were measured at 3 time points during acute primary RSV infection and at 1 memory time point 3-6 months later.


RSV-specific interferon (IFN)- gamma responses were detected in 10 of 18 of infants. Infants with mild disease had higher RSV-specific IFN- gamma memory responses than did those with moderate or severe disease. No consistent correlations between RSV-specific IFN- gamma responses and corticosteroid administration were observed. RSV-specific interleukin (IL)-4 or IL-5 responses to primary RSV infection were detectable in 5 of 18 and 8 of 15 infants, respectively.


During primary RSV infection, many infants demonstrated RSV-specific IFN- gamma responses. The strongest IL-4 and IL-5 responses were detected in 3 infants with severe disease, suggesting that type 2 responses may contribute to the pathogenesis of severe disease.

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