Secondary Bacterial Infections in Influenza Virus Infection Pathogenesis

  • Amber M. Smith
  • Jonathan A. McCullers
Part of the Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology book series (CT MICROBIOLOGY, volume 385)


Influenza is often complicated by bacterial pathogens that colonize the nasopharynx and invade the middle ear and/or lung epithelium. Incidence and pathogenicity of influenza-bacterial coinfections are multifactorial processes that involve various pathogenic virulence factors and host responses with distinct site- and strain-specific differences. Animal models and kinetic models have improved our understanding of how influenza viruses interact with their bacterial co-pathogens and the accompanying immune responses. Data from these models indicate that considerable alterations in epithelial surfaces and aberrant immune responses lead to severe inflammation , a key driver of bacterial acquisition and infection severity following influenza. However, further experimental and analytical studies are essential to determining the full mechanistic spectrum of different viral and bacterial strains and species and to finding new ways to prevent and treat influenza-associated bacterial coinfections. Here, we review recent advances regarding transmission and disease potential of influenza-associated bacterial infections and discuss the current gaps in knowledge.


Influenza Virus Respiratory Syncytial Virus Alveolar Macrophage Influenza Infection Influenza Virus Infection 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by NIH grant AI100946 (AMS) and ALSAC (JAM). We thank Betsy Williford and Klo Spelshouse (SJCRH Biomedical Communications) for assistance with figure illustration.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Infectious DiseasesSt. Jude Children’s Research HospitalMemphisUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Tennessee Health Science CenterMemphisUSA

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