Research Topic

Current Insights into Host Immune Responses to Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and Challenges Towards Efficient Treatments and Vaccines against RSV

About this Research Topic

The human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) is the main etiological agent responsible for acute lower respiratory tract infections (ALRI) in young children and the elderly worldwide. RSV infection can result in a range of disease severity from mild manifestations such as rhinitis and cough, to more severe manifestations such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Severe complications are responsible for hospitalization and outpatients visits, rendering RSV infection a major concern for the public health sector. Virtually all children have been infected with RSV at least once by 3 years of age. During RSV infection, immune inflammatory cells are known to be recruited to the lungs, causing tissue damage and mucus production. RSV has evolved several mechanisms for evading the host immune response in order to avoid efficient T cell activation; T cell memory responses and/or RSV-specific neutralizing antibody production.

The weak and inefficient host immune response to RSV infection consequently leads to repeated re-infections and associated complications throughout life. Currently, licensed vaccines to prevent disease caused by RSV infection are unavailable. The first attempt to developing a vaccine against RSV was the formalin-inactivated vaccine (FI-hRSV) in the 1960´s. However, those children vaccinated with FI-RSV, upon natural infection with RSV, presented an exacerbated inflammatory disease, leading to hospitalization and even death in some cases. For this reason, it is essential for us to gain a deeper understanding of the immune basis required to develop an effective immune response without causing exacerbation of the disease.

Currently, there are several RSV vaccine candidates which were designed in accordance with the latest advances made in characterizing the biology of this virus. However, none of these vaccines have thus far made it to the market. The available treatment, recommended only for high-risk infants, is a monoclonal antibody that binds to the Fusion (F) protein of RSV known as palivizumab. Although palivizumab prevents hospitalization in high-risk populations, it requires several injections and it is very costly. New approaches for improving the monoclonal antibody against the F protein and exploring other target proteins such as the Glycoprotein (G), Nucleoprotein (N) and Small Hydrophobic (SH) protein are currently under development.

In this Research topic, we will gather a series of Original Research and Review articles on immunity to RSV as well as novel therapeutics and vaccines against RSV to help accelerate the development of effective treatments for this disease. To this end, we welcome submissions on the following sub-topics:

1. RSV-associated immunopathology.
2. Mechanisms used by RSV to modulate and evade host immune responses.
3. Immune responses triggered by RSV infection.
4. Vaccine development for RSV.
5. Novel therapies for treating RSV infection beyond vaccines.

We acknowledge the initiation and support of this Research Topic by the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS). We hereby state publicly that the IUIS has had no editorial input in articles included in this Research Topic, thus ensuring that all aspects of this Research Topic are evaluated objectively, unbiased by any specific policy or opinion of the IUIS.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) is the main etiological agent responsible for acute lower respiratory tract infections (ALRI) in young children and the elderly worldwide. RSV infection can result in a range of disease severity from mild manifestations such as rhinitis and cough, to more severe manifestations such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Severe complications are responsible for hospitalization and outpatients visits, rendering RSV infection a major concern for the public health sector. Virtually all children have been infected with RSV at least once by 3 years of age. During RSV infection, immune inflammatory cells are known to be recruited to the lungs, causing tissue damage and mucus production. RSV has evolved several mechanisms for evading the host immune response in order to avoid efficient T cell activation; T cell memory responses and/or RSV-specific neutralizing antibody production.

The weak and inefficient host immune response to RSV infection consequently leads to repeated re-infections and associated complications throughout life. Currently, licensed vaccines to prevent disease caused by RSV infection are unavailable. The first attempt to developing a vaccine against RSV was the formalin-inactivated vaccine (FI-hRSV) in the 1960´s. However, those children vaccinated with FI-RSV, upon natural infection with RSV, presented an exacerbated inflammatory disease, leading to hospitalization and even death in some cases. For this reason, it is essential for us to gain a deeper understanding of the immune basis required to develop an effective immune response without causing exacerbation of the disease.

Currently, there are several RSV vaccine candidates which were designed in accordance with the latest advances made in characterizing the biology of this virus. However, none of these vaccines have thus far made it to the market. The available treatment, recommended only for high-risk infants, is a monoclonal antibody that binds to the Fusion (F) protein of RSV known as palivizumab. Although palivizumab prevents hospitalization in high-risk populations, it requires several injections and it is very costly. New approaches for improving the monoclonal antibody against the F protein and exploring other target proteins such as the Glycoprotein (G), Nucleoprotein (N) and Small Hydrophobic (SH) protein are currently under development.

In this Research topic, we will gather a series of Original Research and Review articles on immunity to RSV as well as novel therapeutics and vaccines against RSV to help accelerate the development of effective treatments for this disease. To this end, we welcome submissions on the following sub-topics:

1. RSV-associated immunopathology.
2. Mechanisms used by RSV to modulate and evade host immune responses.
3. Immune responses triggered by RSV infection.
4. Vaccine development for RSV.
5. Novel therapies for treating RSV infection beyond vaccines.

We acknowledge the initiation and support of this Research Topic by the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS). We hereby state publicly that the IUIS has had no editorial input in articles included in this Research Topic, thus ensuring that all aspects of this Research Topic are evaluated objectively, unbiased by any specific policy or opinion of the IUIS.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

14 December 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

14 December 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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