Differential interferon gene expression in bronchiolitis caused by respiratory syncytial virus-A genotype ON1

  • Alessandra PierangeliEmail author
  • Agnese Viscido
  • Camilla Bitossi
  • Federica Frasca
  • Massimo Gentile
  • Giuseppe Oliveto
  • Antonella Frassanito
  • Raffaella Nenna
  • Fabio Midulla
  • Carolina Scagnolari
Original Investigation


Bronchiolitis severity is determined by a complex interaction among viral replication and antiviral immunity. The current respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)-A, genotype ON1 demonstrated a high replicative capacity but seemed to be clinically less severe than the previously circulating RSV-A, NA1. To learn insights about ON1 innate immune response, we analyzed expression levels of type I/III interferon (IFN)-related genes in the respiratory mucosa of infants with RSV bronchiolitis. We enrolled RSV-positive bronchiolitis patients over 12 epidemic seasons at a university hospital in Rome. From nasopharyngeal washings’ cells (46 positive to NA1, 47 to ON1 and 28 to RSV-B, genotype BA), the mRNA copy number of the type III IFN receptor (IFNLR1 and IL10RB subunits), and of the type I/III IFN-stimulated genes, MxA and ISG56, was calculated using the threshold cycle relative quantification method with respect to an invariant gene. Expression levels of type III IFN receptor subunits genes positively correlated to each other and did not differ in infants infected with different RSV genotypes. The ISGs levels also positively correlated between them but differed among groups. MxA levels were significantly higher in NA1-infected infants than in those with ON1 and BA; ISG56 expression was slightly higher in NA1 than in the other strains. Interestingly, a moderate negative correlation existed between viral load and both ISGs values in ON1-infected infants only. The reduced ISG levels elicited during infections with ON1 (and BA) may cause a weaker control of RSV replication and/or an inadequate host immune response which may impact the risk of respiratory sequelae.


Respiratory syncytial virus Bronchiolitis Interferon IFN-stimulated genes 



We are grateful to all the clinical teams at the Umberto I Hospital (Sapienza University of Rome) for their contribution in the management of infants hospitalized for bronchiolitis.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The Sapienza University Hospital research and ethics committee approved the study. Informed consent was obtained from parents or guardians of all infants. The research was conducted in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandra Pierangeli
    • 1
    Email author
  • Agnese Viscido
    • 1
  • Camilla Bitossi
    • 1
  • Federica Frasca
    • 1
  • Massimo Gentile
    • 1
  • Giuseppe Oliveto
    • 1
  • Antonella Frassanito
    • 2
  • Raffaella Nenna
    • 2
  • Fabio Midulla
    • 2
  • Carolina Scagnolari
    • 1
  1. 1.Virology Laboratory, Department of Molecular MedicineAffiliated to Pasteur Institute Italy, Cenci Bolognetti FoundationRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Pediatrics“Sapienza” UniversityRomeItaly

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