mBio. 2022-02-22; 13.1: e0325721.

Pandemic Influenza Infection Promotes Streptococcus pneumoniae Infiltration, Necrotic Damage, and Proteomic Remodeling in the Heart

Platt MP, Lin YH, Wiscovitch-Russo R, Yu Y, Gonzalez-Juarbe N

PMID: 35089061


For over a century, it has been reported that primary influenza infection promotes the development of a lethal form of bacterial pulmonary disease. More recently, pneumonia events caused by both viruses and bacteria have been directly associated with cardiac damage. Importantly, it is not known whether viral-bacterial synergy extends to extrapulmonary organs such as the heart. Using label-free quantitative proteomics and molecular approaches, we report that primary infection with pandemic influenza A virus leads to increased Streptococcus pneumoniae translocation to the myocardium, leading to general biological alterations. We also observed that each infection alone led to proteomic changes in the heart, and these were exacerbated in the secondary bacterial infection (SBI) model. Gene ontology analysis of significantly upregulated proteins showed increased innate immune activity, oxidative processes, and changes to ion homeostasis during SBI. Immunoblots confirmed increased complement and antioxidant activity in addition to increased expression of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. Using an model of sequential infection in human cardiomyocytes, we observed that influenza enhances S. pneumoniae cytotoxicity by promoting oxidative stress enhancing bacterial toxin-induced necrotic cell death. Influenza infection was found to increase receptors that promote bacterial adhesion, such as polymeric immunoglobulin receptor and fibronectin leucine-rich transmembrane protein 1 in cardiomyocytes. Finally, mice deficient in programmed necrosis (i.e., necroptosis) showed enhanced innate immune responses, decreased virus-associated pathways, and promotion of mitochondrial function upon SBI. The presented results provide the first evidence that influenza infection promotes S. pneumoniae infiltration, necrotic damage, and proteomic remodeling of the heart. Adverse cardiac events are a common complication of viral and bacterial pneumonia. For over a century, it has been recognized that influenza infection promotes severe forms of pulmonary disease mainly caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. The extrapulmonary effects of secondary bacterial infections to influenza virus are not known. In the present study, we used a combination of quantitative proteomics and molecular approaches to assess the underlying mechanisms of how influenza infection promotes bacteria-driven cardiac damage and proteome remodeling. We further observed that programmed necrosis (i.e., necroptosis) inhibition leads to reduced damage and proteome changes associated with health.