Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 163-173

First online:

The Immune Response to Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection: Friend or Foe?

  • Robert C. WelliverSr.Affiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, The State University of New York at BuffaloDivision of Infectious Diseases, Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo Email author 

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The immune response to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection has fascinated and frustrated investigators for decades. After adverse responses to early attempts at vaccination, it became popularly held that disease following infection was related to overly aggressive immune responses. However, recent data illustrate that severe forms of disease are related to inadequate, rather than hyperresponsive, adaptive immune reactions. Thus, recovery from primary (and perhaps later) RSV infection is dependent on the quality of innate immune responses. These findings should have enormous significance to the development of vaccines and antiviral compounds.


Respiratory syncytial virus infection Immune response Bronchiolitis Asthma Infants