Viral Lower Respiratory Tract Infections in Infancy and Early Childhood-Immunological and Developmental Aspects

November 7 - 8, 2019
NIH, Neuroscience Building, Bethesda, MD


Executive Summary

Authors Aruna Natarajan, MD, PhD, Robert Tamburro, MD, MSc, J. Matthew Craig, PhD, Sara Lin, PhD and Neil Aggarwal, MD


Viral lower respiratory tract infections are generally more common and severe among infants and young children than in adults and include acute bronchiolitis and pneumonia, the mechanisms of which need elucidation. Currently there are neither objective markers of severity nor mechanism- based cures for these diseases which have disproportionately high mortality (influenza) and morbidity (RSV and rhinovirus) in infancy. Moreover, these infections may impact lung development and have far reaching pulmonary effects, both in the immediate post-viral period and further out into adulthood, that are only just beginning to be recognized.

The present COVID-19 pandemic with the remarkable sparing of young children from severe respiratory manifestations of SARS-CoV-2, further highlights the importance of interrogating and elucidating this field.

There are unique challenges to studying juvenile animal models and to understanding the development of immunity to viral insults in the early years which need attention. Further, the application of recent advances in single cell technologies and molecular techniques could enhance our understanding of the effects of respiratory virus infections, both on specific cellular subtypes of the developing lung and, more generally, on disease progression and outcome.