Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 Aug;32(4):494-511. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1283287. Epub 2011 Aug 19.


Adenoviruses (AdV) are DNA viruses that typically cause mild infections involving the upper or lower respiratory tract, gastrointestinal (GI) tract, or conjunctiva. Rare manifestations of AdV infections include hemorrhagic cystitis, hepatitis, hemorrhagic colitis, pancreatitis, nephritis, or encephalitis. Adenovirus infections are more common in young children, owing to lack of humoral immunity. Epidemics of AdV infections may occur in healthy children or adults in closed or crowded settings (particularly military recruits). The disease is more severe, and dissemination is more likely in patients with impaired immunity (eg, organ transplant recipients, human immunodeficiency virus infection, congenital immunodeficiency syndromes). Fatality rates for untreated severe AdV pneumonia or disseminated disease may exceed 50%. More than 50 serotypes of AdV have been identified. Different serotypes display different tissue trophisms and correlate with clinical manifestations of infection. The predominant serotypes differ among countries or regions and change over time. Transmission of novel strains between countries or across continents and replacement of dominant serotypes by new strains may occur. Treatment of AdV infections is controversial because prospective, randomized therapeutic trials have not been done. Cidofovir is considered the drug of choice for severe AdV infections, but not all patients require treatment. Vaccines have been shown to be highly efficacious in reducing the risk of respiratory AdV infection but are currently not available.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / classification
  • Adenoviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Adenoviridae Infections / epidemiology
  • Adenoviridae Infections / transmission
  • Adenoviridae Infections / virology*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Cidofovir
  • Cytosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Cytosine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Organophosphonates / therapeutic use
  • Serotyping
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Organophosphonates
  • Cytosine
  • Cidofovir