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.