Rhinoviruses infect the lower airways

Nikolaos G. Papadopoulos, Philip J. Bates, Philip G. Bardin, Alberto Papi, Shih H. Leir, David J. Fraenkel, Jon Meyer, Peter M. Lackie, Gwendolyn Sanderson, Stephen T. Holgate, Sebastian L. Johnston*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

453 Scopus citations


Rhinoviruses are the major cause of the common cold and a trigger of acute asthma exacerbations. Whether these exacerbations result from direct infection of the lower airway or from indirect mechanisms consequent on infection of the upper airway alone is currently unknown. Lower respiratory infection was investigated in vitro by exposing primary human bronchial epithelial cells to rhinoviruses and in vivo after experimental upper respiratory infection of human volunteers. Bronchial infection was confirmed by both approaches. Furthermore, rhinoviruses induced production of interleukin-6, -8, and -16 and RANTES and were cytotoxic to cultured respiratory epithelium. This evidence strongly supports a direct lower respiratory epithelial reaction as the initial event in the induction of rhinovirus-mediated asthma exacerbations. The frequency of infection and the nature of the inflammatory response observed are similar to those of the upper respiratory tract, suggesting that rhinovirus infections may be one of the most important causes of lower in addition to upper respiratory disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1875-1884
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases


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