Syncytial virus respiratory infections in children – immunological aspects

Adriana Narcisa Munteanu, Mihaela Surcel, Carolina Constantin, Monica Neagu    Published online: 3 June 2019

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Out of all respiratory viral infections, those with human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) are the most frequent registered worldwide being responsible for bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and asthma in all age groups, especially in children. As children have an immature immune system, severe HRSV infection can lead to death. In this paper we will revise the most recent findings regarding the immune response in the HRSV infection focusing on children. Extensive studies indicate that viral and host factors modulate the severity of infection. The viral infection first triggers a strong innate immune response followed by a further adaptive immune antiviral response. Although HRSV infection is common, there is still no efficient therapy available. The hurdles in obtaining an efficient therapy reside in several issues: the immaturity of the immune system of infants and young children, the differences in the virulence potential of the viral strains that induce a different cytokine/chemokine host response, with the involvement of multiple molecular, still unknown pathways. Identification of antiviral immune mechanisms and the comprehensive characterization  of virus-specific immune responses using new cellular and animal models would help to define the crosstalk between viral and host factors that would modulate the severity of infection. Moreover identifying the molecular mechanisms of acute airway disease would shed light also on associated long-term consequences like developing asthma in the adulthood. As HRSV is globally circulating for more than 60 years, an effective therapy remains a public health priority.


Keywords syncytial virus, respiratory infections in children, antiviral immunity


Corresponding author: Adriana Narcisa Munteanu, E-mail:

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