Genetic predisposition to wheeze following respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis


Dr Jeremy Hull, University Department of Paediatrics, John Radcliffe Hospital, OX3 9DU Oxford, UK.


Background The nature of the association between severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis and subsequent wheezing remains unknown. In a previous study, we showed that genetic variation in the IL-8-promoter region is associated with susceptibility to severe bronchiolitis.

Objective The purpose of this study was to assess the association between wheezing post-bronchiolitis and the genetic variant of IL-8 gene.

Methods We collected data from 134 children who had suffered from bronchiolitis, enrolled in our previous study. The occurrence of wheezing post-bronchiolitis was recorded from a questionnaire sent by post. The association between the genotype and wheezing phenotype was assessed by family-based and case–control approaches.

Results Family-based association showed that the IL-8 variant was transmitted significantly more often than expected in the children who wheezed after the episode of bronchiolitis (transmission=56%, P=0.02). This effect was not observed in the group of children who had bronchiolitis but did not go on to wheeze. Moreover, the variant was significantly more frequent in post-bronchiolitis wheezers compared with the general population (odds ratio=1.6, 95% confidence interval 1.0–2.6).

Conclusion These preliminary results suggest that there is a genetic predisposition to wheeze following severe RSV bronchiolitis.