Rhinoviruses are major triggers of common cold and acute asthma exacerbations; Rhinovirus species A, B and C may have distinct clinical impact; however, little is known regarding RV species-specific antibody responses in health and asthma.
To describe and compare total and rhinovirus species-specific antibody levels in healthy and asthmatic children, away from an acute event.
Serum samples from 163 preschool children with mild to moderate asthma and 72 healthy controls from the multinational Predicta cohort were analysed using the recently developed PreDicta rhinovirus antibody chip.
Rhinovirus antibody levels varied, with rhinovirus C and rhinovirus A being higher than rhinovirus B in both groups. Compared to controls, asthma was characterised by significantly higher levels of antibodies to rhinovirus A and rhinovirus C, but not rhinovirus B. Rhinovirus antibody levels positively correlated with the number of common colds over the previous year in healthy children, and wheeze episodes in asthmatics. Antibody levels also positively correlated with asthma severity but not with current asthma control.
The variable humoral response to rhinovirus species in both groups, suggests a differential infectivity pattern between rhinovirus species. In healthy pre-schoolers, rhinovirus antibodies accumulate with colds. In asthma, rhinovirus A and rhinovirus C antibodies are much higher and further increase with disease severity and wheeze episodes. Higher antibody levels in asthma may be due to a compromised innate immune response, leading to increased exposure of the adaptive immunity to the virus. Importantly, there is no apparent protection with increasing levels of antibodies.