Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh Cold Study 2

Pittsburgh Cold Study 2

Study Description

Pittsburgh Cold Study 2 (PCS2) was a prospective viral challenge study conducted from 1997-2001 among healthy volunteers ages 18-54 (mean 28.9; SD 10.4).  This study focused on the role of childhood socioeconomic status (SES) and personality (Big 5) in common cold susceptibility.  Measures of childhood SES included retrospective reports of parental education and parental home ownership during participants’ childhood and adolescence.  PCS2 also included objective measures of current adult SES and of participants’ subjective perceptions of their SES relative to others in their community and in the United States more generally (MacArthur Ladder). Other psychosocial assessments included self-report questionnaire measures of psychological well-being, social integration, social support, reactive responding, and trait affect, as well as the Life Events and Difficulties Schedule (LEDS)—an intensive interview measure of life stress.  In addition to these retrospective measures, PCS2 also included interview assessments of daily social interactions (number of interactions, time spent interacting, individual(s) involved, supportiveness, conflict) and mood for 3 nights a week over a period of two weeks.  Health practices were assessed, as were epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol.  In addition to standard virology, local (nasal secretions) cytokines—including interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, and IL-8, were assessed on each day in quarantine following challenge with the study virus.

Participants were 159 men and 175 women from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania metropolitan area who responded to newspaper advertisements and were judged to be in good health after a medical examination. At baseline, participants completed a telephone screening followed by an in-person health evaluation by study physicians to assess study eligibility (see Human Subjects for information on additional inclusion and exclusion criteria). After completing baseline psychosocial questionnaires and biological assessments, participants were administered nasal drops containing either rhinovirus 39 (RV39; n=228) or RV23 (n=106). They were then followed in quarantine for 5 days and monitored for development of infection and objective signs of illness (see viral challenge timeline below). Approximately 28 days after virus exposure, blood was collected for serological testing. Volunteers were considered to have a cold if they both were infected with the challenge virus and met illness criteria. All individuals who completed the study received $800 for their participation.

pcs2 viral challenge

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