RSV infection is typically associated with secondary bacterial infection. We hypothesise that the local airway immune response to RSV has incidental antibacterial effects. Using coordinated proteomics and metagenomics analysis we simultaneously analysed the microbiota and proteomes of the upper airway and determined direct antibacterial activity in airway secretions of RSV-infected children. Here, we report that the airway abundance of Streptococcus was higher in samples collected at the time of RSV infection compared with samples collected one month later. RSV infection is associated with neutrophil influx into the airway and degranulation and is marked by overexpression of proteins with known antibacterial activity including BPI, EPX, MPO and AZU1. Airway secretions of children infected with RSV, have significantly greater antibacterial activity compared to RSV-negative controls. This RSV-associated, neutrophil-mediated antibacterial response in the airway appears to act as a regulatory mechanism that modulates bacterial growth in the airways of RSV-infected children.
Sande, C.J., Njunge, J.M., Mwongeli, Ngoi.J., Mutunga, M.N., Chege, T., Gicheru, E.T., Gardiner, E.M., Gwela, A., Green, C.A., Drysdale, S.B., Berkley, J.A., Nokes, J., Pollard, A.J.