• Increased susceptibility for superinfection with Streptococcus pneumoniae during influenza virus infection is not caused by TLR7-mediated lymphopenia.

      Stegemann, Sabine; Dahlberg, Sofia; Kröger, Andrea; Gereke, Marcus; Bruder, Dunja; Henriques-Normark, Birgitta; Gunzer, Matthias; Otto-von-Guericke University, Institute of Molecular and Clinical Immunology, Magdeburg, Germany. (2009)
      Influenza A virus (IAV) causes respiratory tract infections leading to recurring epidemics with high rates of morbidity and mortality. In the past century IAV induced several world-wide pandemics, the most aggressive occurring in 1918 with a death toll of 20-50 million cases. However, infection with IAV alone is rarely fatal. Instead, death associated with IAV is usually mediated by superinfection with bacteria, mainly Streptococcus pneumoniae. The reasons for this increased susceptibility to bacterial superinfection have not been fully elucidated. We previously demonstrated that triggering of TLR7 causes immune incompetence in mice by induction of lymphopenia. IAV is recognized by TLR7 and infections can lead to lymphopenia. Since lymphocytes are critical to protect from S. pneumoniae it has long been speculated that IAV-induced lymphopenia might mediate increased susceptibility to superinfection. Here we show that sub-lethal pre-infections of mice with IAV-PR8/A/34 strongly increased their mortality in non-lethal SP infections, surprisingly despite the absence of detectable lymphopenia. In contrast to SP-infection alone co-infected animals were unable to control the exponential growth of SP. However, lymphopenia forced by TLR7-triggering or antibody-mediated neutropenia did not increase SP-susceptibility or compromise the ability to control SP growth. Thus, the immune-incompetence caused by transient lympho- or leukopenia is not sufficient to inhibit potent antibacterial responses of the host and mechanisms distinct from leukodepletion must account for increased bacterial superinfection during viral defence.
    • TLR7 contributes to the rapid progression but not to the overall fatal outcome of secondary pneumococcal disease following influenza A virus infection.

      Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Gereke, Marcus; Orrskog, Sofia; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Pasche, Bastian; Bader, Sophie R; Gruber, Achim D; Akira, Shizuo; Weiss, Siegfried; Henriques-Normark, Birgitta; et al. (2013)
      Increased risk for bacterial superinfections substantially contributes to the mortality caused by influenza A virus (IAV) epidemics. While the mechanistic basis for this lethal synergism is still insufficiently understood, immune modulation through the viral infection has been shown to be involved. Since the pattern-recognition receptor (PRR) toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) is a major sensor for the viral genome, we studied how IAV recognition by TLR7 influences the development of secondary pneumococcal infection. In a mouse model of IAV, TLR7-deficient hosts induced a potent antiviral response and showed unchanged survival. In secondary pneumococcal infection during acute influenza, TLR7ko mice showed a fatal outcome similar to wild-type (WT) hosts, despite significantly delayed disease progression. Also, when bacterial superinfection occurred after virus clearance, WT and TLR7-deficient hosts showed similar mortality, even though we found the phagocytic activity of alveolar macrophages isolated from IAV-pre-infected hosts to be enhanced in TLR7ko over WT mice. Thus, we show that a virus-sensing PRR modulates the progression of secondary pneumococcal infection following IAV. However, the fatal overall outcome in WT as well as TLR7ko hosts suggests that processes distinct from TLR7-triggering override the contribution of this single PRR.