Gender analysis in acute bronchiolitis due to respiratory syncytial virus


Yoko Nagayama, Medical Supervisor, Health and Welfare Department, Ichiba-cho 1–1, Cyuo-ku, Chiba 260–8667
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It is reasonable to compare immune reactions between boys and girls because many infections in the early stages are predominant in males. A relationship between immunomodulatory effects of sex hormone surge in boys at early months and infectious diseases is still unclear. We compared clinical features between boys and girls who suffered from wheezing that was initially triggered by acute respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis. For systemic immune response evaluation, white blood cell (WBC) count, blood eosinophil count, and serum C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured. For local inflammation evaluation, scores for eosinophils and neutrophils in sputum were evaluated microscopically. Patients consisted of 90 boys and 51 girls. Most children were under 6 months of age. WBC counts and serum CRP levels were significantly increased in girls compared with boys. Blood eosinophilia at the acute stage was rarely observed in children after 6 months of age. For local response evaluation, sputum specimens obtained from 42 boys and 29 girls were microscopically examined. Sputum eosinophil score of 2+ and more was observed in boys (6/42) exclusively. In contrast, sputum neutrophilia was commonly observed in boys and girls. From a follow-up study, we confirmed that 28 children with RSV bronchiolitis showed wheezing episodes afterwards. However, their blood and sputum eosinophilia during RSV bronchiolitis did not reflect their subsequent wheezing. We speculated that gender-specific responses to RSV infection might account for male susceptibility. Differences in RSV pathogenecity between boys and girls should be further investigated in terms of asthma progression.