Heterotypic Influenza Infections Mitigate Susceptibility to Secondary Bacterial Infection.

15 Aug 2022
Cipolla EM, Yue M, Nickolich KL, Huckestein BR, Antos D, Chen W, Alcorn JF

Influenza-associated bacterial superinfections have devastating impacts on the lung and can result in increased risk of mortality. New strains of influenza circulate throughout the population yearly, promoting the establishment of immune memory. Nearly all individuals have some degree of influenza memory before adulthood. Due to this, we sought to understand the role of immune memory during bacterial superinfections. An influenza heterotypic immunity model was established using influenza A/Puerto Rico/8/34 and influenza A/X31. We report in this article that influenza-experienced mice are more resistant to secondary bacterial infection with methicillin-resistant as determined by wasting, bacterial burden, pulmonary inflammation, and lung leak, despite significant ongoing lung remodeling. Multidimensional flow cytometry and lung transcriptomics revealed significant alterations in the lung environment in influenza-experienced mice compared with naive animals. These include changes in the lung monocyte and T cell compartments, characterized by increased expansion of influenza tetramer-specific CD8 T cells. The protection that was seen in the memory-experienced mouse model is associated with the reduction in inflammatory mechanisms, making the lung less susceptible to damage and subsequent bacterial colonization. These findings provide insight into how influenza heterotypic immunity reshapes the lung environment and the immune response to a rechallenge event, which is highly relevant to the context of human infection.