Ocular tropism of respiratory viruses

Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2013 Mar;77(1):144-56. doi: 10.1128/MMBR.00058-12.


Respiratory viruses (including adenovirus, influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, coronavirus, and rhinovirus) cause a broad spectrum of disease in humans, ranging from mild influenza-like symptoms to acute respiratory failure. While species D adenoviruses and subtype H7 influenza viruses are known to possess an ocular tropism, documented human ocular disease has been reported following infection with all principal respiratory viruses. In this review, we describe the anatomical proximity and cellular receptor distribution between ocular and respiratory tissues. All major respiratory viruses and their association with human ocular disease are discussed. Research utilizing in vitro and in vivo models to study the ability of respiratory viruses to use the eye as a portal of entry as well as a primary site of virus replication is highlighted. Identification of shared receptor-binding preferences, host responses, and laboratory modeling protocols among these viruses provides a needed bridge between clinical and laboratory studies of virus tropism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Eye / virology*
  • Eye Diseases / virology*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism
  • Respiratory System / virology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology*
  • Tropism*
  • Virus Diseases / virology
  • Virus Replication
  • Viruses / pathogenicity*


  • Receptors, Virus