Adenovirus and the Cornea: More Than Meets the Eye

Viruses. 2021 Feb 13;13(2):293. doi: 10.3390/v13020293.


Human adenoviruses cause disease at multiple mucosal sites, including the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary tracts, and are common agents of conjunctivitis. One site of infection that has received sparse attention is the cornea, a transparent tissue and the window of the eye. While most adenovirus infections are self-limited, corneal inflammation (keratitis) due to adenovirus can persist or recur for months to years after infection, leading to reduced vision, discomfort, and light sensitivity. Topical corticosteroids effectively suppress late adenovirus keratitis but are associated with vision-threatening side effects. In this short review, we summarize current knowledge on infection of the cornea by adenoviruses, including corneal epithelial cell receptors and determinants of corneal tropism. We briefly discuss mechanisms of stromal keratitis due to adenovirus infection, and review an emerging therapy to mitigate adenovirus corneal infections based on evolving knowledge of corneal epithelial receptor usage.

Keywords: adenovirus; epidemic keratoconjunctivitis; human corneal epithelium; viral receptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae Infections / virology*
  • Adenoviruses, Human / classification
  • Adenoviruses, Human / genetics
  • Adenoviruses, Human / isolation & purification
  • Adenoviruses, Human / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cornea / virology*
  • Corneal Diseases / virology*
  • Humans