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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Oct;122(4):671-82; quiz 683-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2008.08.013.

Host immune responses to rhinovirus: mechanisms in asthma.

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Section of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI 53792, USA.


Viral respiratory infections can have a profound effect on many aspects of asthma including its inception, exacerbations, and, possibly, severity. Of the many viral respiratory infections that influence asthma, the common cold virus, rhinovirus, has emerged as the most frequent illness associated with exacerbations and other aspects of asthma. The mechanisms by which rhinovirus influences asthma are not fully established, but current evidence indicates that the immune response to this virus is critical in this process. Many airway cell types are involved in the immune response to rhinovirus, but most important are respiratory epithelial cells and possibly macrophages. Infection of epithelial cells generates a variety of proinflammatory mediators to attract inflammatory cells to the airway with a subsequent worsening of underlying disease. Furthermore, there is evidence that the epithelial airway antiviral response to rhinovirus may be defective in asthma. Therefore, understanding the immune response to rhinovirus is a key step in defining mechanisms of asthma, exacerbations, and, perhaps most importantly, improved treatment.

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