Geerdink RJ, Pillay J, Meyaard L, Bont L.
Neutrophils are known for their role in fighting bacteria, but they also offer of protecting against viral infections. However, this virtually always occurs at the price of tissue damage. This is also likely to be true for RSV infection, Geerdink and colleagues argue. About 80% of the immunological studies in the published literature focus on the role of lymphocytes, whereas neutrophils dominate the influx of cells in the bronchoalveolar lumen during RSV bronchiolitis. Neutrophils exert antiviral effects through excretion of antiviral proteins, induction of mucus production, phagocytosis and formation of extracellular traps. At the same time, all of these mechanisms may cause deleterious effects on the airways and therefore play a role in the inception of asthma. Geerdink proposes that RSV treatment may be developed by dampening neutrophil activity under an umbrella of currently developed antiviral drugs.