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RSV is the major cause of severe bronchiolitis in infants, and severe bronchiolitis as a result of RSV is associated with subsequent asthma development. A biased Th2 immune response is thought to be responsible for neonatal RSV pathogenesis; however, molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Our data demonstrate, for the first time, that IL-4Rα is up-regulated in vitro on human CD4+ T cells from cord blood following RSV stimulation and in vivo on mouse pulmonary CD4+ T cells upon reinfection of mice, initially infected as neonates. Th cell-specific deletion of Il4ra attenuated Th2 responses and abolished the immunopathophysiology upon reinfection, including airway hyper-reactivity, eosinophilia, and mucus hyperproduction in mice infected initially as neonates. These findings support a pathogenic role for IL-4Rα on Th cells following RSV reinfection of mice initially infected as neonates; more importantly, our data from human cells suggest that the same mechanism occurs in humans.

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Journal of Leukocyte Biology

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