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J Infect Dis. 2014 Mar;209(6):865-75. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jit527. Epub 2013 Sep 26.

Influenza A virus exacerbates Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia in mice by attenuating antimicrobial peptide production.

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Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Influenza A represents a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Bacterial complications of influenza A confer the greatest risk to patients. TH17 pathway inhibition has been implicated as a mechanism by which influenza A alters bacterial host defense. Here we show that preceding influenza causes persistent Staphylococcus aureus infection and suppression of TH17 pathway activation in mice. Influenza does not inhibit S. aureus binding and uptake by phagocytic cells but instead attenuates S. aureus induced TH17 related antimicrobial peptides necessary for bacterial clearance in the lung. Importantly, exogenous lipocalin 2 rescued viral exacerbation of S. aureus infection and decreased free iron levels in the bronchoalveolar lavage from mice coinfected with S. aureus and influenza. These findings indicate a novel mechanism by which influenza A inhibits TH17 immunity and increases susceptibility to secondary bacterial pneumonia. Identification of new mechanisms in the pathogenesis of bacterial pneumonia could lead to future therapeutic targets.


Staphylococcal aureus; TH17; coinfection; host defense; influenza A; pneumonia

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