Sex differences in blood pro-oxidant status and platelet activation in children admitted with respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis: A pilot study

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Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of bronchiolitis in the pediatric population worldwide and an important cause of death in developing countries. It has been demonstrated that the balance between oxidant and antioxidant systems is disrupted in children with bronchiolitis and that oxidative stress contributes to the pathogenesis of this disease. Platelets play an important role in antimicrobial host defenses and contribute to pulmonary vascular repair being either targets or source of reactive oxidizing species. The main purpose of this study was to assessing sex differences in clinical characteristics and platelets activation during RSV bronchiolitis in infancy. Methods: In this retrospective study a total of 203 patients (112 boys and 91 girls) with bronchiolitis, aged 12 months or less, admitted to the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital of Rome (Italy) in the period from January to December 2017, were enrolled. Moreover, in a select group of patients (15 boys and 12 girls) with diagnosis of moderate bronchiolitis from RSV, a pilot study on oxidative stress and platelet characteristics was carried out by electron paramagnetic resonance and flow cytometry respectively. Age-matched healthy control subjects (10 boys and 10 girls) were chosen as controls. Data were analyzed using Student' T test, Chi Squared test and one-way ANOVA test. Results: This study highlights the influence of sex in the clinical course of bronchiolitis. In particular we found: i) a higher incidence of bronchiolitis in boys than in girls (55% vs 45%); ii) higher C reactive protein values in girls than boys (1.11 mg/dL vs 0.92 mg/dL respectively; p < 0.05); iii) a different degree of thrombocytosis during hospitalization (mild in the girls and severe in the boys). Moreover, in selected patients we found that compared to girls with bronchiolitis, boys showed: i) higher percentage of activated platelets (8% vs 2% respectively; p < 0.05) and iii) higher number of platelets forming homotypic aggregates (2.36% vs 0.84% respectively, p < 0.05). Conclusion: The present study affirm that the bronchiolitis is an infection in which sex seems to act as a modulating factor only in the clinical course, influencing also the choice of the therapy should be made.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalItalian Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 6 2020


  • Bronchiolitis
  • Platelets
  • Reactive oxidizing species
  • Respiratory syncytial virus
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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