Overlapping and distinct features of viral and allergen immunity in the human lung

Immunity. 2021 Apr 13;54(4):617-631. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2021.03.010.


Immunity in the human respiratory tract is provided by a diverse range of tissue-resident cells, including specialized epithelial and macrophage populations and a network of innate and innate-like lymphocytes, such as natural killer cells, innate lymphoid cells, and invariant T cells. Lung-resident memory T and B cells contribute to this network following initial exposure to antigenic stimuli. This review explores how advances in the study of human immunology have shaped our understanding of this resident immune network and its response to two of the most commonly encountered inflammatory stimuli in the airways: viruses and allergens. It discusses the many ways in which pathogenic infection and allergic inflammation mirror each other, highlighting the key checkpoints at which they diverge and how this can result in a lifetime of allergic exacerbation versus protective anti-viral immunity.

Keywords: Allergy; airway inflammation; lung; repair; virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / virology
  • Lung / immunology*
  • Lung / virology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*


  • Allergens