Influenza A viruses (IAVs) cause respiratory illness of varying severity based on the virus strains, host predisposition and pre-existing immunity. Ultimately, outcome and recovery from infection rely on an effective immune response comprising both innate and adaptive components. The innate immune response provides the first line of defence and is crucial to the outcome of infection. Airway epithelial cells are the first cell type to encounter the virus in the lungs, providing antiviral and chemotactic molecules that shape the ensuing immune response by rapidly recruiting innate effector cells such as NK cells, monocytes and neutrophils. Each cell type has unique mechanisms to combat virus-infected cells and limit viral replication, however their actions may also lead to pathology. This review focuses how innate cells contribute to protection and pathology, and provides evidence for their involvement in immune pathology in IAV infections.

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