Abstract

Infection with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) may induce asthma-like symptoms and RSV-specific IgE in infected infants as a result of Th2-like response to RSV. The effect of RSV infection on the expression of B cell antigens CD21 and CD23, putative participants in Th2 responses, was investigated. Samples from bronchiolitic infants (n = 19) were tested by three-color immunofluorescence flow cytometry during the acute phase of infection and 4–6 weeks later. In 6 of 10 RSV-positive infants, the percentage of CD23+ B cells was higher than in 9 RSV-negative children and in controls. Both CD21+ and CD21- B cells exhibited a higher percentage of CD23. The group with increased expression of CD23 antigen had RSV-specific IgE and IgG4 antibodies. These findings corroborate the hypothesis that RSV could provoke a Th2-type response, but the relationship between CD23 antigen and RSV infection must be determined.