Since its discovery in 2001, human metapneumovirus (hMPV) has been identified as an important cause of respiratory tract infection in young children, second only to the closely related respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Clinical evidence suggests that hMPV is associated with acute exacerbations of asthma in both children and adults, and may play a role in initiating asthma development in children. Animal models have demonstrated that airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and inflammation are triggered following hMPV infection, and hMPV is able to persist in vivo by inhibiting innate immune responses and causing aberrant adaptive responses. In this review, we discuss the prevalence of hMPV infection in pediatric and adult populations and its potential role in asthma exacerbation. We also review recent advances made in animal models to determine immune responses following hMPV infection, and compare to what is known about RSV.

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