The immunobiology of respiratory syncytial virus infection

Academic Article


  • There is increasing evidence that young children with severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)-induced bronchiolitis are at high risk of developing allergy and asthma during their later life. The determinants for this association are not well understood. Current studies suggest that both genetic backgrounds and unique characteristics of the virus play critical roles in determining the type of immune responses to RSV infection, leading to altered regulation of airway tone associated with wheezing. In susceptible subjects, RSV may either enhance the Th2 immune response or decrease the Th1 immune response. This altered Th1/Th2 cytokine response associated with RSV infection is not commonly observed among other RNA viruses, suggesting that RSV may have unique characteristics. Multiple clinical studies support the link between severe RSV bronchiolitis and the subsequent development of allergy and asthma. This link will be further tested by the ongoing large studies on the effect of early RSV intervention on the development of allergy. The administration of palivizumab, an anti-RSV monoclonal antibody, seems to be helpful for RSV prevention and treatment at early stage. There are no effective RSV vaccines available, and this is, at least in part, because of the poorly understood immunology and pathogenesis of RSV disease. The use of experimental animal models has led to a better, but not sufficient, understanding of the immunologic basis of RSV-induced disease, particularly asthma. Further studies on the immunopathology of RSV infection with animal models, including the nonhuman primate models, may help develop effective RSV vaccines. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wang SZ; Harrod KS
  • Start Page

  • 37
  • End Page

  • 52
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 1