Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection has been shown to be a risk factor for the development of allergy in humans and mice. The allergy-enhancing properties of RSV may be dependent on atopic background and an individual's history of RSV infection. We examined the influence of the timing of infection and prior inoculation with RSV in a mouse model of allergic asthma. Mice were sensitized to and challenged with ovalbumin (OVA) and were inoculated with RSV either before or during the sensitization or challenge period. One group of mice was inoculated with RSV both before sensitization to OVA and during challenge with OVA. Increased pulmonary expression of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, and IL-13 mRNA and aggravated alveolitis and hypertrophy of mucus-producing cells were observed only when OVA-sensitized mice were inoculated with RSV shortly before or during challenge with OVA. Despite protection against viral replication, prior inoculation with RSV did not abrogate RSV-enhanced, OVA-induced expression of T helper 2 (Th2) cytokines in the lung. In conclusion, inoculation with RSV enhances allergic disease only when the immune system has already been Th2-primed by the allergen (i.e., OVA). This RSV-enhanced allergy is not completely abrogated by prior inoculation with RSV.

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The Journal of Infectious Diseases
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Barends, M., de Rond, C. G., Dormans, J., Osterhaus, A., Neijens, H., & Kimman, T. G. (2004). Timing of infection and prior immunization with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in RSV-enhanced allergic inflammation. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 189(10), 1866–1872. doi:10.1086/386341