Immunity to the conserved influenza nucleoprotein reduces susceptibility to secondary bacterial infections

Academic Article


  • Influenza causes <250,000 deaths annually in the industrialized world, and bacterial infections frequently cause secondary illnesses during influenza outbreaks, including pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, and otitis media. In this study, we demonstrate that crossreactive immunity to mismatched influenza strains can reduce susceptibility to secondary bacterial infections, even though this fails to prevent influenza infection. Specifically, infecting mice with H3N2 influenza before challenging with mismatched H1N1 influenza reduces susceptibility to either Gram-positive Streptococcus pneumoniae or Gram-negative Klebsiella pneumoniae. Vaccinating mice with the highly conserved nucleoprotein of influenza also reduces H1N1-induced susceptibility to lethal bacterial infections. Both T cells and Abs contribute to defense against influenza-induced bacterial diseases; influenza cross-reactive T cells reduce viral titers, whereas Abs to nucleoprotein suppress induction of inflammation in the lung. These findings suggest that nonneutralizing influenza vaccines that fail to prevent influenza infection may nevertheless protect the public from secondary bacterial diseases when neutralizing vaccines are not available. Copyright © 2012 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 1310206
  • Author List

  • Haynes L; Szaba FM; Eaton SM; Kummer LW; Lanthier PA; Petell AH; Duso DK; Luo D; Lin JS; Lefebvre JS
  • Start Page

  • 4921
  • End Page

  • 4929
  • Volume

  • 189
  • Issue

  • 10