The human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) is the causative agent for high rates of hospitalizations due to viral bronchiolitis and pneumonia worldwide. Such a disease is characterized by an infection of epithelial cells of the distal airways that leads to inflammation and subsequently to respiratory failure. Upon infection, different pattern recognition receptors recognize the virus and trigger the innate immune response against the hRSV. Further, T cell immunity plays an important role for virus clearance. Based on animal studies, it is thought that the host immune response to hRSV is based on a biased T helper (Th)-2 and Th17 T cell responses with the recruitment of T cells, neutrophils and eosinophils to the lung, causing inflammation and tissue damage. In contrast, human immunity against RSV has been shown to be more complex with no definitive T cell polarization profile. Nowadays, only a humanized monoclonal antibody, known as palivizumab, is available to protect against hRSV infection in high-risk infants. However, such treatment involves several injections at a significantly high cost. For these reasons, intense research has been focused on finding novel vaccines or therapies to prevent hRSV infection in the population. Here, we comprehensively review the recent literature relative to the immunological features during hRSV infection, as well as the new insights into preventing the disease caused by this virus.
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