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Infect Immun. 2013 Dec;81(12):4498-508. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00818-13. Epub 2013 Sep 30.

Capsular sialic acid of Streptococcus suis serotype 2 binds to swine influenza virus and enhances bacterial interactions with virus-infected tracheal epithelial cells.

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Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, Québec, Canada.


Streptococcus suis serotype 2 is an important swine bacterial pathogen, and it is also an emerging zoonotic agent. It is unknown how S. suis virulent strains, which are usually found in low quantities in pig tonsils, manage to cross the first host defense lines to initiate systemic disease. Influenza virus produces a contagious infection in pigs which is frequently complicated by bacterial coinfections, leading to significant economic impacts. In this study, the effect of a preceding swine influenza H1N1 virus (swH1N1) infection of swine tracheal epithelial cells (NTPr) on the ability of S. suis serotype 2 to adhere to, invade, and activate these cells was evaluated. Cells preinfected with swH1N1 showed bacterial adhesion and invasion levels that were increased more than 100-fold compared to those of normal cells. Inhibition studies confirmed that the capsular sialic acid moiety is responsible for the binding to virus-infected cell surfaces. Also, preincubation of S. suis with swH1N1 significantly increased bacterial adhesion to/invasion of epithelial cells, suggesting that S. suis also uses swH1N1 as a vehicle to invade epithelial cells when the two infections occur simultaneously. Influenza virus infection may facilitate the transient passage of S. suis at the respiratory tract to reach the bloodstream and cause bacteremia and septicemia. S. suis may also increase the local inflammation at the respiratory tract during influenza infection, as suggested by an exacerbated expression of proinflammatory mediators in coinfected cells. These results give new insight into the complex interactions between influenza virus and S. suis in a coinfection model.

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