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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1995 Oct;152(4 Pt 2):S36-9.

Rhinovirus infection of the normal human airway.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville 22908, USA.


Selected events in rhinovirus infection of the normal human airway can be regarded as occurring sequentially. Initial steps in rhinovirus pathogenesis are believed to include viral entry into the nose, mucociliary transport of virus to the posterior pharynx, and initiation of infection in ciliated and non-ciliated epithelial cells of the upper airway. Viral replication peaks on average within 48 h of initiation of infection and persists for up to 3 wk. Infection is followed by activation of several inflammatory mechanisms, which may include release or generation of interleukins, bradykinins, prostaglandins, and possibly histamine and stimulation of parasympathetic reflexes. Pathophysiologic processes are initiated, which include vasodilatation of nasal blood vessels, transudation of plasma, glandular secretion, and stimulation of nerve fibers, causing pain and triggering sneeze and cough reflexes. The resultant clinical illness is a rhinosinusitis, pharyngitis, and bronchitis, which, on average, lasts 1 wk.

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