A new study shows that human T cells play an important role in controlling respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, a highly contagious and seasonal respiratory virus that mainly causes common cold symptoms in healthy adults but can cause more severe lung infections in infants. , immunocompromised and elderly individuals.
Notably, RSV infection remains the most common cause of hospitalization in infants and young children. Health officials have recently promoted flu vaccines and improved Covid boosters as they prepare for a season of respiratory infections that could rival the worst cold and flu seasons in history.
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A new study published in JCI Insight, by Angela Wahl, PhD, Raymond Pickles, PhD, and J. Victor Garcia, PhD, of the International Center for the Advancement of Translational Science (ICATS), Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and. The Global Health and Infectious Diseases (IGHID) Institute at the UNC School of Medicine has shown that human T cells play an important role in controlling infection.
“Vaccination strategies for RSV have largely focused on the induction of antibody responses. By using novel precise animal models of RSV infection, we have gained new insight into how the human immune system, and specifically human T cells, control and clear RSV infection.” said Wahl, assistant professor of medicine and assistant director of UNC ICATS.
“Our data show that T cells can independently control RSV infection in human lung tissue in the absence of an RSV-specific antibody response. While a vaccine-induced RSV-specific T cell response is not able to prevent infection, it can accelerate the virus. If the antibodies elicited by the vaccine Failure to prevent infection leads to cure and reduced disease, due to antigenic variability in circulating strains.”
The research team used two novel precision animal models to analyze the human immune correlates of RSV-induced human lung pathology and protection at pre-determined time points. They showed that primed human CD8 T cells or CD4 T cells effectively and independently control RSV replication in human lung tissue in the absence of an RSV-specific antibody response.
These preclinical data support the development of RSV vaccines, eliciting effective T-cell responses to improve RSV vaccine efficacy.
“Due to differences in circulating strains, vaccine efficacy fluctuates between RSV seasons and how long protection lasts remains to be determined. But vaccines that boost T cell immunity may provide long-term protection against RSV infection and limit the severity of subsequent lung disease” J. Victor said Garcia, professor of medicine and director of UNC ICATS.
“With our current experience with the global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 and the success of vaccines designed to neutralize antibody responses, it will be important to understand how vaccine design can be tuned to mount an effective T cell response. To more effectively eliminate lung infections against viral pathogens, including RSV,” said Raymond Pickles of the UNC Department of Microbiology and Immunology, who was involved in the study.
An effective and safe RSV vaccine is a priority for the WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research, but an incomplete understanding of how the human immune response controls RSV infection has proven to be a major obstacle to developing an effective vaccine.
On May 3, the US Food and Drug Administration approved GSK’s Arexvy vaccine for the prevention of lower respiratory disease caused by RSV in people 60 years of age and older. Pfizer and Moderna also have two candidate vaccines that have shown efficacy against RSV-associated respiratory tract infections in phase III clinical trials.
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