Human metapneumovirus: review of an important respiratory pathogen

Int J Infect Dis. 2014 Aug:25:45-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2014.03.1394. Epub 2014 May 17.


Human metapneumovirus (hMPV), discovered in 2001, most commonly causes upper and lower respiratory tract infections in young children, but is also a concern for elderly subjects and immune-compromised patients. hMPV is the major etiological agent responsible for about 5% to 10% of hospitalizations of children suffering from acute respiratory tract infections. hMPV infection can cause severe bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children, and its symptoms are indistinguishable from those caused by human respiratory syncytial virus. Initial infection with hMPV usually occurs during early childhood, but re-infections are common throughout life. Due to the slow growth of the virus in cell culture, molecular methods (such as reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR)) are the preferred diagnostic modality for detecting hMPV. A few vaccine candidates have been shown to be effective in preventing clinical disease, but none are yet commercially available. Our understanding of hMPV has undergone major changes in recent years and in this article we will review the currently available information on the molecular biology and epidemiology of hMPV. We will also review the current therapeutic interventions and strategies being used to control hMPV infection, with an emphasis on possible approaches that could be used to develop an effective vaccine against hMPV.

Keywords: Bronchiolitis; Human metapneumovirus; Respiratory diseases; Viral pneumonia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Metapneumovirus / physiology*
  • Paramyxoviridae Infections / diagnosis
  • Paramyxoviridae Infections / epidemiology
  • Paramyxoviridae Infections / etiology
  • Paramyxoviridae Infections / prevention & control
  • Paramyxoviridae Infections / therapy
  • Paramyxoviridae Infections / virology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology*