Human parainfluenza viruses (HPIVs) are a common cause of acute respiratory illness throughout life. Infants, children, and the immunocompromised are the most likely to develop severe disease. HPIV1 and HPIV2 are best known to cause croup while HPIV3 is a common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia. HPIVs replicate productively in respiratory epithelial cells and do not spread systemically unless the host is severely immunocompromised. Molecular studies have delineated how HPIVs evade and block cellular innate immune responses to permit efficient replication, local spread, and host-to-host transmission. Studies using ex vivo human airway epithelium have focused on virus tropism, cellular pathology and the epithelial inflammatory response, elucidating how events early in infection shape the adaptive immune response and disease outcome.
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