Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an exceptional mucosal pathogen. It specializes in infection of the ciliated respiratory epithelium, causing disease of variable severity with little or no direct systemic effects. It infects virtually all children by the age of three years and then repeatedly infects throughout life; this it does despite relatively slight variations in antigenicity, apparently by inducing selective immunological amnesia. Inappropriate or dysregulated responses to RSV can be pathogenic, causing disease-enhancing inflammation that contributes to short- and long-term effects. In addition, RSV's importance as a largely unrecognized pathogen of debilitated older people is increasingly evident. Vaccines that induce nonpathogenic protective immunity may soon be available, and it is possible that different vaccines will be optimal for infants; older children; young to middle-age adults (including pregnant women); and elderly persons. At the dawn of RSV vaccination, it is timely to review what is known (and unknown) about immune responses to this fascinating virus.
Annual Review of Immunology – Annual Reviews
Published: Apr 26, 2017