Product(s) used in this publication: Peptide ELISA
Influenza viruses are a threat to global public health resulting in ~500,000 deaths each year. Despite an intensive vaccination program, influenza infections remain a recurrent, yet unsolved public health problem. Secondary bacterial infections frequently complicate influenza infections during seasonal outbreaks and pandemics, resulting in increased morbidity and mortality. Staphylococcus aureus, including methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), is frequently associated with these co-infections, including the 2009 influenza pandemic. Damage to alveolar epithelium is a major contributor to severe influenza-bacterial co-infections and can result in gas exchange abnormalities, fluid leakage, and respiratory insufficiency. These deleterious manifestations likely involve both pathogen- and host-mediated mechanisms. However, there is a paucity of information regarding the mechanisms (pathogen- and/or host-mediated) underlying influenza-bacterial co-infection pathogenesis. To address this, we characterized the contributions of viral-, bacterial-, and host-mediated factors to the altered structure and function of alveolar epithelial cells during co-infection with a focus on the 2009 pandemic influenza (pdm2009) and MRSA. Here, we characterized pdm2009 and MRSA replication kinetics, temporal host kinome responses, modulation of MRSA virulence factors, and disruption of alveolar barrier integrity in response to pdm2009-MRSA co-infection. Our results suggest that alveolar barrier disruption during co-infection is mediated primarily through host response dysregulation, resulting in loss of alveolar barrier integrity.