Clinical and biological consequences of respiratory syncytial virus genetic diversity

Estefany Rios Guzman, Judd F. Hultquist*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is one of the most common etiological agents of global acute respiratory tract infections with a disproportionate burden among infants, individuals over the age of 65, and immunocompromised populations. The two major subtypes of RSV (A and B) co-circulate with a predominance of either group during different epidemic seasons, with frequently emerging genotypes due to RSV’s high genetic variability. Global surveillance systems have improved our understanding of seasonality, disease burden, and genomic evolution of RSV through genotyping by sequencing of attachment (G) glycoprotein. However, the integration of these systems into international infrastructures is in its infancy, resulting in a relatively low number (~2200) of publicly available RSV genomes. These limitations in surveillance hinder our ability to contextualize RSV evolution past current canonical attachment glycoprotein (G)-oriented understanding, thus resulting in gaps in understanding of how genetic diversity can play a role in clinical outcome, therapeutic efficacy, and the host immune response. Furthermore, utilizing emerging RSV genotype information from surveillance and testing the impact of viral evolution using molecular techniques allows us to establish causation between the clinical and biological consequences of arising genotypes, which subsequently aids in informed vaccine design and future vaccination strategy. In this review, we aim to discuss the findings from current molecular surveillance efforts and the gaps in knowledge surrounding the consequence of RSV genetic diversity on disease severity, therapeutic efficacy, and RSV–host interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Infectious Disease
StatePublished - 2022


  • clinical outcomes
  • genetic diversity
  • genotype
  • molecular surveillance
  • respiratory syncytial virus
  • therapeutic design
  • whole-genome sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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