Rhinovirus infection induces mucus hypersecretion

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

Rhinorrhea is a prominent symptom of the common cold. Although increases in vascular permeability and serous cell secretion have been demonstrated in human nasal mucus during active rhinovirus infections, changes in mucin constituents have not been quantified. Nonallergic (n= 48) and asymptomatic allergic rhinitis (n = 32) subjects were inoculated with rhinovirus type hanks before the spring allergy season. Nasal lavages were performed before inoculation (day 0), then daily for 5 days afterward. The subjects were divided into infected and noninfected groups on the basis of evidence of successful rhinovirus infection (nasal shedding of virus or fourfold increases in specific serum antibodies). Concentrations of interleukin (IL)-8, markers of vascular leak (IgG), seromucous cells (lysozyme), and mucoglycoprotein exocytosis [7F10-immunoreactive mucin (7F10-irm) and Alcian blue staining of acidic mucoglycoproteins] were measured in lavage fluids. The infected subgroup had maximal increases in nasal lavage fluid concentrations of IL-8 (sevenfold), IgG (fourfold), total protein (twofold), and gel-phase 7F10-irm (twofold) on day 3. There were no differences between infected allergic and nonallergic subjects. IL-8 and gel-phase 7F10-irm were significantly higher in infected than in noninfected subjects. In addition to promoting plasma exudation, rhinovirushanks infection increases IL-8 and gel-phase mucin secretion. These processes may contribute to a progression from watery rhinorrhea to mucoid discharge, with mild neutrophilic infiltration during the common cold.


Published In

American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, 274, L1017-L1023.