The pathogenesis of respiratory syncytial virus disease in childhood

Br Med Bull. 2002:61:13-28. doi: 10.1093/bmb/61.1.13.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a leading cause of severe respiratory infection in infants and children. RSV is an RNA virus whose genome encodes 10 proteins. The G protein is responsible for viral attachment to cells whilst the F protein promotes syncytia formation. These proteins are also important in the immune response to RSV. Both the innate and adaptive arms of the cellular immune system are involved in the immunological response to RSV. The cytopathic effects of the virus explain many of the pathological findings in RSV disease. However, there is compelling evidence to suggest that the host cell immune response also has a prominent role in disease pathogenesis. Non-immunological factors may also be important.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Eosinophils / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung / virology*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / immunology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / pathology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / virology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human / physiology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human / ultrastructure
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology