Background: Infants with severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis have an increased risk of recurrent wheezing and asthma. We aimed to evaluate the relationships between regulatory T cell (Treg) percentage and cytokine production of in vitro-stimulated CD4+ T cells during acute bronchiolitis and the development of recurrent wheezing in the first 3 years of life. Methods: We obtained peripheral blood from 166 infants hospitalized with their first episode of RSV-confirmed bronchiolitis. Granzyme B (GZB) expression, and interleukin-10, interferon-γ, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), IL-4, and IL-5 production by in vitro anti-CD3/CD28- and anti-CD3/CD46-activated CD4+ T cells, and percentage of peripheral Treg (CD4+CD25hiFoxp3hi) cells were measured by flow cytometry. Wheezing was assessed every 6 months. Recurrent wheezing was defined as three or more episodes following the initial RSV bronchiolitis. Results: Sixty-seven percent (n = 111) of children had wheezing after their initial RSV infection, with 30% having recurrent wheezing. The percentage of peripheral Treg (CD4+CD25hiFoxp3hi) cells was not significantly different between the wheezing groups. Decreased TNF-α production from anti-CD3/CD28− and anti-CD3/CD46− activated CD4+ T cells was observed in the recurrent wheezers, compared with nonwheezers (p =.048 and.03, respectively). There were no significant differences in the GZB+ CD4+ T cells and production of other inflammatory cytokines between these groups. Conclusions: We demonstrated lower TNF-α production by in vitro stimulated CD4+ T cells during severe RSV bronchiolitis in children that subsequently developed recurrent wheezing, compared with children with no subsequent wheeze. These findings support the role of CD4+ T cell immunity in the development of subsequent wheezing in these children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-39
Number of pages10
JournalImmunity, Inflammation and Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Tregs
  • recurrent wheeze
  • respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis
  • tumor necrosis factor


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