Researcher reviews influenza, bacterial superinfections in Nature Reviews Microbiology

April 17, 2014

Le Bonheur Children's Hospital Pediatrician-in-Chief Jon McCullers, MD, was recently invited to submit a review in the April issue of Nature Reviews Microbiology, one of the world's foremost scientific publications. Dr. McCullers, a world-renowned infectious disease specialist, and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, analyzed the epidemiology and microbiology of co-infections during the 1918, 1957 and 1968 pandemics, as well as more recent 2009 novel H1N1 pandemic.

He reviewed the co-pathogenesis of with bacteria in the lung. Bacterial superinfection in the lungs of those suffering from influenza is a key element that promotes severe disease and mortality.

The co-pathogenesis McCullers reviewed is characterized by complex interactions between co-infecting pathogens and the host, leading to the disruption of physical barriers, dysregulation of immune responses and delays in a return to homeostasis.

The net effect of this cascade can be the outgrowth of the pathogens, immune-mediated pathology and increased morbidity.

McCullers calls for large-scale studies involving consortia or clinical networks to unlock the next unanswered questions about co-infections and viruses in order to prevent the loss of life of a pandemic similar to the one in 1918.

"There is increasing recognition that most pneumonia is caused by co-infections rather than a single pathogen, and the most severe disease seen in influenza pandemics is mediated by co-infecting bacteria working with the virus," said McCullers. "The scientific community must help the world prepare for the next pandemic by understanding a set of key, unanswered questions that are addressed in this review."

Explore further: Study finds depletion of alveolar macrophages linked to bacterial super-infections

Related Stories

Study finds depletion of alveolar macrophages linked to bacterial super-infections

July 22, 2013
A recent study published in the July issue of the Journal of Immunology helps explain why some humans contract bacterial super-infections like pneumonia with influenza. The research was led by Le Bonheur Pediatrician-in-Chief ...

Reconstructed 1918 influenza virus has yielded key insights, scientists say

September 11, 2012
The genetic sequencing and reconstruction of the 1918 influenza virus that killed 50 million people worldwide have advanced scientists' understanding of influenza biology and yielded important information on how to prevent ...

Earliest known evidence of 1918 influenza pandemic found

September 19, 2011
Examination of lung tissue and other autopsy material from 68 American soldiers who died of respiratory infections in 1918 has revealed that the influenza virus that eventually killed 50 million people worldwide was circulating ...

Recommended for you

Phase 3 trial confirms superiority of tocilizumab to steroids for giant cell arteritis

July 26, 2017
A phase 3 clinical trial has confirmed that regular treatment with tocilizumab, an inhibitor of interleukin-6, successfully reduced both symptoms of and the need for high-dose steroid treatment for giant cell arteritis, the ...

A large-scale 'germ trap' solution for hospitals

July 26, 2017
When an infectious airborne illness strikes, some hospitals use negative pressure rooms to isolate and treat patients. These rooms use ventilation controls to keep germ-filled air contained rather than letting it circulate ...

Researchers report new system to study chronic hepatitis B

July 25, 2017
Scientists from Princeton University's Department of Molecular Biology have successfully tested a cell-culture system that will allow researchers to perform laboratory-based studies of long-term hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. ...

Male hepatitis B patients suffer worse liver ailments, regardless of lifestyle

July 25, 2017
Why men with hepatitis B remain more than twice as likely to develop severe liver disease than women remains a mystery, even after a study led by a recent Drexel University graduate took lifestyle choices and environments ...

Mind-body therapies immediately reduce unmanageable pain in hospital patients

July 25, 2017
Mindfulness training and hypnotic suggestion significantly reduced acute pain experienced by hospital patients, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Research examines lung cell turnover as risk factor and target for treatment of influenza pneumonia

July 24, 2017
Influenza is a recurring global health threat that, according to the World Health Organization, is responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths every year, most due to influenza pneumonia, or viral pneumonia. Infection with ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.