Prospects of antiviral and anti-inflammatory therapy for respiratory syncytial virus infection

Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2005 Dec;3(6):945-55. doi: 10.1586/14787210.3.6.945.


Respiratory syncytial virus is the leading viral cause of death in children less than 2 years of age, and is an increasing cause of morbidity and mortality in transplant patients and the elderly. Respiratory syncytial virus causes upper and lower respiratory tract infections, which can lead to severe bronchiolitis and pneumonia. High-risk groups for severe respiratory syncytial virus infection include infants with a history of premature birth with or without chronic lung disease, children with congenital heart disease, children with cystic fibrosis or chronic lung diseases, and immunosuppressed patients or patients with immunodeficiency. However, the majority of infants who have severe respiratory syncytial virus disease are born at full term and are otherwise healthy. It is unclear why children, the elderly and the immunosuppressed are at much higher risk for severe disease; however, a respiratory syncytial virus-induced immune pathologic mechanism has long been suspected. Attempts to develop a safe and effective vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus have failed. Antirespiratory syncytial virus immunotherapy, although effective prophylactically, does not provide any beneficial clinical outcome when administered therapeutically, indicating that respiratory syncytial virus-induced pathology is most likely the result of the inflammatory response to infection, rather than a direct viral cytopathic effect. Thus, a combined antiviral and anti-inflammatory therapy may represent the safest and most efficient treatment for acute respiratory syncytial virus infection. In this review, the current knowledge that has set the rationale for the development of such therapy is summarized.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / pathology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / drug effects*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / growth & development


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antiviral Agents