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Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2013;372:105-18. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-38919-1_5.

Respiratory syncytial virus and reactive airway disease.

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Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA.


Reactive airway disease (RAD) is a general term for respiratory illnesses manifested by wheezing. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) results in wheezing, either by causing bronchiolitis or by inducing acute exacerbations of asthma. There has been a long-standing interest in whether severe RSV bronchiolitis in infancy is a risk factor for the development of asthma later in childhood. While epidemiologic studies have suggested that such a link exists, a very recent study suggests that infants with greater airways responsiveness to methacholine instead have an increased prevalence of severe RSV bronchiolitis. Increased airways responsiveness to methacholine has been implicated as a key factor for loss of lung function in asthmatic subjects, suggesting that instead of being causal, severe RSV infection may instead be a marker of a predisposing factor for asthma. In this chapter, we will explore the evidence that RSV infection leads to RAD in infants and adults, and how these different forms of RAD may be linked.

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