Pediatric Allergy and Immunology (JM Portnoy and CE Ciaccio, Section Editors)

Current Allergy and Asthma Reports

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 613-620

First online:

Role of Viruses in the Development of Atopic Disease in Pediatric Patients

  • Dorothy S. CheungAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin Email author 
  • , Mitchell H. GraysonAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The prevalence of atopic diseases continues to rise in modernized countries, without a clear explanation for this increase. One potential cause identified from epidemiologic studies of children is respiratory RNA viral infections leading to development of recurrent wheezing, asthma, and allergic sensitization. We review human epidemiologic data that both support and refute the role of viruses in this process. Exploring recent murine models, we document possible immunologic mechanisms that could translate a viral infection into atopic disease. We further discuss evidence for a post-viral “atopic cycle” that could explain the development of multiple allergen sensitization, and we explore available data to suggest a connection between viral infections of the gastrointestinal tract with the development of food allergy. Taken together, this review documents evidence to support the “viral hypothesis”, and, in particular, the role of RNA viruses in the development of atopic disease.


Virus Antiviral Immunology Atopy Asthma Food allergy IgE Atopic disease Pediatric Children