Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major respiratory pathogen which causes bronchiolitis with dyspnea and wheezing in children less than 2 years old. RSV bronchiolitis in infancy severe enough to cause hospitalization might be a risk factor for allergic sensitization and bronchial asthma in future. However, the pathophysiology behind this development has not been clearly characterized. To evaluate the existence of airway inflammation and characteristic of RSV bronchiolitis, we analyzed and compared the concentrations of eosinophilic cationic protein (ECP) in nasal fluid and plasma. Methods: From 69 infants (aged <2 years) hospitalized for possible lower respiratory tract infections including RSV infection, we collected nasal fluid and plasma and determined the ECP concentrations. Results: ECP concentrations in nasal fluid were significantly higher in patients with wheezing and/or bronchial rales than in patients without them (1733 ± 660 ng/mL vs 680 ± 450 ng/mL, p = 0.018), and those of the respiratory syncitial virus-infected group were significantly higher than those of the uninfected group (p = 0.04). Meanwhile, there was no significant difference in plasma ECP levels between patients with wheezing and patients without wheezing, and no significant difference between RSV-infected and other pathogen-infected patients. There were significant correlations between nasal fluid ECP concentrations and both neutrophil and eosinophil counts in the peripheral blood. Conclusions: Nasal fluid ECP concentrations are increased in infants with lower respiratory infections including RSV infection accompanied with wheezing. ECP probably originates from neutrophils as well as eosinophils migrated into airways. The monitoring of ECP concentration in nasal fluid may be useful for evaluating leukocyte (including eosinophils and neutrophils)-mediated airway inflammation during infancy and its severity.
- Airway inflammation
- Eosinophilic cationic protein
- Respiratory syncitial virus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy