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PLoS One. 2013 Dec 6;8(12):e82865. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082865. eCollection 2013.

A novel outbred mouse model of 2009 pandemic influenza and bacterial co-infection severity.

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


Influenza viruses pose a significant health risk and annually impose a great cost to patients and the health care system. The molecular determinants of influenza severity, often exacerbated by secondary bacterial infection, are largely unclear. We generated a novel outbred mouse model of influenza virus, Staphylococcus aureus, and co-infection utilizing influenza A/CA/07/2009 virus and S. aureus (USA300). Outbred mice displayed a wide range of pathologic phenotypes following influenza virus or co-infection ranging broadly in severity. Influenza viral burden positively correlated with weight loss although lung histopathology did not. Inflammatory cytokines including IL-6, TNF-α, G-CSF, and CXCL10 positively correlated with both weight loss and viral burden. In S. aureus infection, IL-1β, G-CSF, TNF-α, and IL-6 positively correlated with weight loss and bacterial burden. In co-infection, IL-1β production correlated with decreased weight loss suggesting a protective role. The data demonstrate an approach to identify biomarkers of severe disease and to understand pathogenic mechanisms in pneumonia.

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