Using urine metabolomics to understand the pathogenesis of infant respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection and its role in childhood wheezing

Kedir N. Turi, Lindsey Romick-Rosendale, Tebeb Gebretsadik, Miki Watanabe, Steven Brunwasser, Larry J. Anderson, Martin L. Moore, Emma K. Larkin, Ray Stokes Peebles, Tina V. Hartert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection in infants causes significant morbidity and is the strongest risk factor associated with asthma. Metabolites, which reflect the interactions between host cell and virus, provide an opportunity to identify the pathways that underlie severe infections and asthma development. Objective: To study metabolic profile differences between infants with RSV infection, and human rhinovirus (HRV) infection, and healthy infants. To compare infant metabolic differences between children who do and do not wheeze. Methods: In a term birth cohort, urine was collected while healthy and during acute viral respiratory infection with RSV and HRV. We used 1 H-NMR to identify urinary metabolites. Multivariate and univariate statistics were used to discriminate metabolic profiles of infants with either RSV ARI, or HRV ARI, and healthy infants. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the association of urine metabolites with 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-year recurrent wheezing. Results: Several metabolites in nicotinate and nicotinamide metabolism pathways were down-regulated in infants with RSV infection compared to healthy controls. There were no significant differences in metabolite profiles between infants with RSV infection and infants with HRV Infection. Alanine was strongly associated with reduced risk of 1st-year wheezing (OR 0.18[0.0, 0.46]) and 2nd-year wheezing (OR 0.31[0.13, 0.73]), while 2-hydroxyisobutyric acid was associated with increased 3rd-year wheezing (OR 5.02[1.49, 16.93]) only among the RSV infected subset. Conclusion: The metabolites associated with infant RSV infection and recurrent-wheezing are indicative of viral takeover of the cellular machinery and resources to enhance virulence, replication, and subversion of the host immune-response, highlighting metabolic pathways important in the pathogenesis of RSV infection and wheeze development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number135
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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