Thymic stromal lymphopoietin, IL-33, and periostin in hospitalized infants with viral bronchiolitis

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Much attention has recently been focused on thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), IL-33, and periostin in allergic disease, but less is known about their role in viral bronchiolitis.

The aim of the study was to investigate whether infants exhibit enhanced nasal airway secretion of TSLP, IL-33, and periostin during natural respiratory viral bronchiolitis compared to healthy controls.

In total, 213 infants < 2 years of age, hospitalized with bronchiolitis from October/2013 to April/2016 were enrolled alongside 45 healthy infants. Nasopharyngeal aspirates (NPA) were screened for respiratory viruses by the polymerase chain reaction. TSLP, IL-33, and periostin were measured in NPAs. Clinical data were recorded.

At least 1 virus was detected in 186 (87.3%) hospitalized infants: 149 (70%) respiratory syncytial virus (RSV); 42 (19.7%) rhinovirus (HRV); 16 (7.5%) parainfluenza virus (PIV); 9 (4.2%) adenovirus; 10 (4.7%) bocavirus; and 7 (3.3%) metapneumovirus (hMPV). Infants with bronchiolitis had higher levels of TSLP (P = .02), IL-33 (P<.001), and periostin (P = .003) than healthy controls.

Detectable levels of TSLP and periostin were more frequent in virus-positive than in virus-negative patients (P = .05). TSLP and IL-33 were also more common in coinfections, mainly RSV and HRV, than in single-infections (P < .05). No patient with bronchiolitis but with negative viral detection had detectable levels of nasal TSLP or IL-33. Infants with hospital stay ≥5 days were more likely to have detectable levels of nasal TSLP and periostin after adjusting by age (P = .01).

Bronchiolitis by common respiratory viruses is associated with elevated nasal levels of TSLP, IL-33, and periostin, factors known to be important in the development of Th2-response. Respiratory viruses in early life might shift immune responses toward Th2, involving asthma, and allergic diseases.

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