Respiratory Viral Infections and Asthma: Is There a Link?

Erwin W. Gelfand, MD

In This Article


The importance of viral RTIs in asthma exacerbations has been documented in numerous epidemiologic studies. It is much less clear that viral infection, including RSV infection, induces atopic asthma. The immune inflammatory response to virus infection is complex, dependent on the peculiarities of individual host-virus interactions, and, with many target cells, is capable of releasing numerous potent mediators of inflammatory cell accumulation and end-organ toxicity.

The concordant or sequential interactions between viral infection and allergen exposure in enhancing atopic asthma responses are equally complex. Defining key elements in the pathways linking viral infection and asthma exacerbations will provide better treatment options for our patients.


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