Immunological aspects related to viral infections in severe asthma and the role of omalizumab

Francesco Menzella, Giulia Ghidoni, Carla Galeone, Silvia Capobelli, Chiara Scelfo, Nicola Cosimo Facciolongo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Viral respiratory infections are recognized risk factors for the loss of control of allergic asthma and the induction of exacerbations, both in adults and children. Severe asthma is more susceptible to virus-induced asthma exacerbations, especially in the presence of high IgE levels. In the course of immune responses to viruses, an initial activation of innate immunity typically occurs and the production of type I and III interferons is essential in the control of viral spread. However, the Th2 inflammatory environment still appears to be protective against viral infections in general and in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections as well. As for now, literature data, although extremely limited and preliminary, show that severe asthma patients treated with biologics don’t have an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection or progression to severe forms compared to the non-asthmatic population. Omalizumab, an anti-IgE monoclonal antibody, exerts a profound cellular effect, which can stabilize the effector cells, and is becoming much more efficient from the point of view of innate immunity in contrasting respiratory viral infections. In addition to the antiviral effect, clinical efficacy and safety of this biological allow a great improvement in the management of asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Article number348
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Biologicals
  • Immune response
  • Omalizumab
  • Severe asthma
  • Viral respiratory infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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