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Chest. 1994 Jun;105(6):1848-54.

Persistence of respiratory syncytial virus genome and protein after acute bronchiolitis in guinea pigs.

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University of British Columbia Pulmonary Research Laboratory, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, Canada.


Children with acute respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis often develop sequelae of recurrent wheezing and asthma. To determine whether RSV persists within the lung after resolution of acute bronchiolitis, we examined the lungs of guinea pigs 60 days after intranasal inoculation with either human RSV (n = 10) or uninfected cell culture supernatant (n = 11). Evidence of viral persistence within the lung was determined by viral culture to test for replicating virus, immunohistochemistry to test for viral protein, and the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to test for viral genomic RNA. Lungs were also examined histologically for evidence of bronchiolar inflammation or increased numbers of mast cells in the airway walls. All viral cultures were negative; however, there was positive immunohistochemical staining of occasional alveolar macrophages in six of ten RSV-inoculated guinea pigs while RT-PCR was positive in seven of ten RSV-inoculated animals. The six guinea pigs with evidence of RSV by immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR showed excess bronchiolar polymorphonuclear cell infiltrates (p < 0.005) but no increase in the number of airway wall mast cells. These results show that RSV protein and genomic RNA can persist in the lungs of experimentally inoculated guinea pigs for at least 60 days after infection and that persistence of the virus within alveolar macrophages might contribute to the pathogenesis of chronic bronchiolar inflammation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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