, Volume 59, Issue 1-3, pp 109-117
Date: 17 May 2014

The CD4 T cell response to respiratory syncytial virus infection

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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can induce severe lower respiratory tract infections in infants and is the leading cause of bronchiolitis in children worldwide. RSV-induced inflammation is believed to contribute substantially to the severity of disease. T helper (Th)2-, Th9-, and Th17-related cytokines are all observed in infants hospitalized following a severe RSV infection. These cytokines cause an influx of inflammatory cells, resulting in mucus production and reduced lung function. Consistent with the data from RSV-infected infants, CD4 T cell production of Interleukin (IL)-9, IL-13, and IL-17 has all been shown to contribute to RSV-induced disease in a murine model of RSV infection. Conversely, murine studies indicate that the combined actions of regulatory factors such as CD4 regulatory T cells and IL-10 inhibit the inflammatory cytokine response and limit RSV-induced disease. In support of this, IL-10 polymorphisms are associated with susceptibility to severe disease in infants. Insufficient regulation and excess inflammation not only impact disease following primary RSV infection it can also have a major impact following vaccination. Prior immunization with a formalin-inactivated (FI-RSV) vaccine resulted in enhanced disease in infants following a natural RSV infection. A Th2 CD4 T cell response has been implicated to be a major contributor in mediating vaccine-enhanced disease. Thus, future RSV vaccines must induce a balanced CD4 T cell response in order to facilitate viral clearance while inducing proper regulation of the immune response.