The presence of histamine and eosinophil cationic protein in nasopharyngeal secretions of infants with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)- induced bronchiolitis implies the activation of basophil and eosinophil leukocytes, but the specific mechanism of their recruitment has not been elucidated. Chemokines are potent and selective leukocyte chemotactic molecules that are also expressed by airway epithelial cells. Therefore, the pattern of chemokines produced in response to RSV infection was investigated in primary cultures of human nose- and adenoid-derived epithelial cells. Interleukin-8, growth-related peptide-α, and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 were constitutively released by uninfected epithelial cells and were not further enhanced by infection with RSV. RANTES (regulated upon activation, normal T cell-expressed and -secreted), which was present in negligible concentrations in uninfected cultures, was strongly induced by RSV infection, in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Through the release of RANTES, epithelial cells may control the selective concentration and activation of basophils and eosinophils in RSV-infected airway mucosa.
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