The innate immune response to RSV: Advances in our understanding of critical viral and host factors

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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes mild to severe respiratory illness in humans and is a major cause of hospitalizations of infants and the elderly. Both the innate and the adaptive immune responses contribute to the control of RSV infection, but despite successful viral clearance, protective immunity against RSV re-infection is usually suboptimal and infections recur. Poor understanding of the mechanisms limiting the induction of long-lasting immunity has delayed the development of an effective vaccine. The innate immune response plays a critical role in driving the development of adaptive immunity and is thus a crucial determinant of the infection outcome. Advances in recent years have improved our understanding of cellular and viral factors that influence the onset and quality of the innate immune response to RSV. These advances include the identification of a complex system of cellular sensors that mediate RSV detection and stimulate transcriptome changes that lead to virus control and the discovery that cell stress and apoptosis participate in the control of RSV infection. In addition, it was recently demonstrated that defective viral genomes (DVGs) generated during RSV replication are the primary inducers of the innate immune response. Newly discovered host pathways involved in the innate response to RSV, together with the potential generation of DVG-derived oligonucleotides, present various novel opportunities for the design of vaccine adjuvants able to induce a protective response against RSV and similar viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-488
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 11 2017


  • Defective viral genomes
  • Innate immunity
  • NS1 and NS2 degradasome
  • Respiratory syncytial virus
  • Viral recognition


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