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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2000 Feb;105(2 Pt 2):S497-502.

Viral and bacterial infections in the development and progression of asthma.

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University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.


Viral respiratory infections produce wheezing illnesses in patients of all ages. In infancy, infections with respiratory syncytial virus and parainfluenza virus are the major cause of bronchiolitis and croup, whereas infections with common cold viruses such as rhinoviruses are the principal triggers for wheezing in older children and adults with asthma. In addition to causing increased wheezing in asthma, there is mounting evidence that infections early in childhood can affect the development of the immune system and thereby modify the risk for the subsequent development of allergies and asthma. Both of these effects appear to be mediated by virus-induced immune responses. Early during the course of viral infection, resident cells in the airway are activated in an antigen-independent fashion, triggering antiviral responses but also activating and recruiting cells to the airway that could contribute to airway obstruction and respiratory symptoms. Virus-specific T- and B-cell responses may also have dual effects in the presence of preexisting airway inflammation. Finally, there is evidence of synergistic interactions between allergen- and virus-induced airway inflammation. It is likely that greater definition of mechanisms of virus-induced inflammation will provide therapeutic targets for the treatment and possibly the prevention of allergies and asthma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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