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Allergy. 2014 May;69(5):658-67. doi: 10.1111/all.12396. Epub 2014 Mar 29.

Distinct regulation of tonsillar immune response in virus infection.

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Department of Pediatrics, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland.



The relationships between tonsillar immune responses, and viral infection and allergy are incompletely known.


To study intratonsillar/nasopharyngeal virus detections and in vivo expressions of T-cell- and innate immune response-specific cytokines, transcription factors, and type I/II/III interferons in human tonsils.


Palatine tonsil samples were obtained from 143 elective tonsillectomy patients. Adenovirus, bocavirus-1, coronavirus, enteroviruses, influenza virus, metapneumovirus, parainfluenza virus, rhinovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus were detected using PCR. The mRNA expression levels of IFN-α, IFN-β, IFN-γ, IL-10, IL-13, IL-17, IL-28, IL-29, IL-37, TGF-β, FOXP3, GATA3, RORC2, and Tbet were directly analyzed by quantitative RT-PCR.


Fifty percentage of subjects reported allergy, 59% had ≥1 nasopharyngeal viruses, and 24% had ≥1 intratonsillar viruses. Tonsillar virus detection showed a strong negative association with age; especially rhinovirus or parainfluenza virus detection showed positive association with IFN-γ and Tbet expressions. IL-37 expression was positively associated with atopic dermatitis, whereas IFN-α, IL-13, IL-28, and Tbet expressions were negatively associated with allergic diseases. Network analyses demonstrated strongly polarized clusters of immune regulatory (IL-10, IL-17, TGF-β, FOXP3, GATA3, RORC2, Tbet) and antiviral (IFN-α, IFN-β, IL-28, IL-29) genes. These two clusters became more distinctive in the presence of viral infection or allergy. A negative correlation between antiviral cytokines and IL-10, IL-17, IL-37, FOXP3, and RORC2 was observed only in the presence of viruses, and interestingly, IL-13 strongly correlated with antiviral cytokines.


Tonsillar cytokine expression is closely related to existing viral infections, age, and allergic illnesses and shows distinct clusters between antiviral and immune regulatory genes.


Allergy; T cell; cytokine; tonsil; virus

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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