Monoclonal Antibody Treatment of RSV Bronchiolitis in Young Infants: A Randomized Trial

Pediatrics. 2019 Mar;143(3):e20182308. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-2308. Epub 2019 Feb 13.


Background: Monoclonal antibody to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV; palivizumab) is recommend for prophylaxis of high-risk infants during bronchiolitis seasons but not for RSV bronchiolitis treatment. Our aim was to determine if palivizumab would be helpful in young infants with acute RSV bronchiolitis.

Methods: Eligible infants ≤3 months old presenting to the pediatric emergency service with RSV-positive bronchiolitis requiring inpatient admission underwent double-blind random assignment to single-dose intravenous palivizumab (15 mg/kg) or placebo. The primary efficacy outcome was the need for inpatient readmission in the 3 weeks after discharge. Secondary outcomes were time to readiness for hospital discharge, need for PICU on the initial admission, and need for revisit not requiring readmission for the same illness during 3-week follow-up.

Results: A total of 420 infants (median age 49 days) diagnosed with RSV bronchiolitis were randomly assigned; 417 received treatment, and 413 completed follow-up. Readmission during follow-up was needed for 23 (11%) patients on palivizumab and 19 (9.3%) patients in the placebo group (difference 1.8%; 95% confidence interval -4.4% to 7.7%; P = .51). Geometric mean time to readiness for discharge was 29.5 hours for the palivizumab group and 30.2 hours for the placebo group (ratio 0.98; 95% confidence interval 0.81 to 1.20). No safety issues were reported.

Conclusions: Intravenous palivizumab did not appear to help or harm young infants with acute RSV-positive bronchiolitis.

Trial registration: NCT02442427.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage*
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Bronchiolitis / drug therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Length of Stay / trends
  • Male
  • Palivizumab / administration & dosage*
  • Patient Readmission / trends
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Palivizumab

Associated data