Virus-triggered exacerbation in allergic asthmatic children: neutrophilic airway inflammation and alteration of virus sensors characterize a subgroup of patients

Open Access
 
Antoine Deschildre, Muriel Pichavant, Ilka Engelmann, Carole Langlois, Elodie Drumez, Guillaume Pouessel, Sophie Boileau, David Romero-Cubero, Irina Decleyre-Badiu, Anny Dewilde, Didier Hober, Véronique Néve, Caroline Thumerelle, Stéphanie Lejeune, Clémence Mordacq and Philippe Gosset

Abstract

Background

Viruses are important triggers of asthma exacerbations. They are also detected outside of exacerbation. Alteration of anti-viral response in asthmatic patients has been shown although the mechanisms responsible for this defect remain unclear. The objective of this study was to compare in virus-infected and not-infected allergic asthmatic children, aged 6 to 16 years, admitted to hospital for a severe exacerbation, the innate immune response and especially the expression of pattern recognition receptor (PRR) and their function.

Methods

Virus identification was performed both during the exacerbation and at steady state (eight weeks later). Data assessed at both periods included clinical features, anti-viral response and inflammation (in sputum and plasma), and PRR expression/function in blood mononuclear cells.

Results

Viruses were identified in 46 out of 72 children (median age 8.9 years) during exacerbation, and among them, in 17 at steady state. IFN-β, IFN-γ and IL-29 levels in sputum and plasma were similar between infected and not infected patients at both times, as well as the expression of TLR3, RIG-I and MDA5 in blood monocytes and dendritic cells. Airway inflammation in infected patients was characterized by significantly higher IL-5 concentration and eosinophil count. Compared to patients only infected at exacerbation, the re-infected children significantly exhibited lower levels of IFN-γ in plasma and sputum at exacerbation associated with modifications in PRR expression and function in blood mononuclear cells. These re-infected patients also presented an airway neutrophilic inflammation at steady state.

Conclusion

Our results reports in asthmatic children that impaired anti-viral response during virus-induced exacerbation is more pronounced in a subgroup of patients prone to re-infection by virus. This subgroup is characterized by altered PRR function and a different pattern of airway inflammation.

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Editor: Juan C. Ivancevich, MD

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