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Abstract

Infections with persistent or latent viruses alter host immune homeostasis and have potential to affect the outcome of concomitant acute viral infections such as influenza A virus (IAV). Gammaherpesviruses establish life-long infections and require an on-going immune response to control reactivation. We have used a murine model of co-infection to investigate the response to IAV infection in mice latently infected with the gammaherpesvirus MHV-68. Over the course of infection, latently infected BALB/c mice showed less weight loss, clinical signs, pulmonary cellular infiltration and expression of inflammatory mediators than naïve mice infected with IAV and had significantly more activated CD8 T cells in the lungs. Four days after IAV infection, virus spread in the lungs of latently infected animals was significantly lower than in naïve animals. By 7 days after IAV infection latently infected lungs express elevated levels of cytokines and chemokines indicating they are primed to respond to the secondary infection. Investigation at an early time point showed that 24 h after IAV infection co-infected animals had higher expression of IFNβ and Ddx58 (RIG-I) and a range of ISGs than mice infected with IAV alone suggesting that the type I IFN response plays a role in the protective effect. This effect was mouse strain dependent and did not occur in 129/Sv/Ev mice. These results offer insight into innate immune mechanisms that could be utilized to protect against IAV infection and highlight on-going and persistent viral infections as a significant factor impacting the severity of acute respiratory infections.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (Award BB/J004324/1)
    • Principle Award Recipient: BernadetteM Dutia
  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. This article was made open access via a Publish and Read agreement between the Microbiology Society and the corresponding author’s institution.
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2024-02-08
2024-02-28
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