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RSV may hide in the lungs, lead to asthma, UT Southwestern researchers report
Date:10/21/2008

of airway hyperreactivity. Airway hyperreactivity, or episodes of bronchospasms in humans, is the main characteristic of asthma.

Doctors at UT Southwestern have previously shown that RSV infection could increase the risk of developing asthma. In 2004, researchers including Drs. Mejias and Ramilo monitored mice infected with RSV and found that infected mice were more likely to develop chronic lung disease than healthy mice. They also found that infected mice treated with an anti-RSV antibody had less virus in the lungs and not only showed improvement during the acute disease, but also developed significantly less airway hyperreactivity and lung inflammation during the chronic phase of the disease.

"If you use an antibody against RSV, you not only prevent acute disease from the infection but you can also prevent the development of the asthma phenotype, indicating that early interventions against the virus can have a long-term benefit," Dr. Mejias said.

To determine whether RSV persisted in the lungs, UT Southwestern researchers infected mice with live RSV, ultraviolet-light-treated RSV or heat-inactivated RSV. They then monitored the mice for 42 days, checking their pulmonary function and respiratory rate at set intervals. At the end of the study, the researchers found evidence of the virus in every mouse infected with live RSV, but not in the other groups.

While studies of adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have suggested that RSV may persist, this is the first study to test the hypothesis in this animal model of RSV-induced asthma. The persistence of the virus in children has not been extensively researched, Dr. Ramilo said.

Dr. Mejias said the next step is to determine whether RSV persists in children.

"We are currently doing a study in which we are treating kids with a new antibody that is very potent," she said. "The plan is to follow them for a year to see if aggressive treatment against th
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Contact: Kristen Holland Shear
kristen.hollandshear@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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