Respiratory syncytial virus infection facilitates acute colonization of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in mice

J Med Virol. 2009 Dec;81(12):2096-103. doi: 10.1002/jmv.21623.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes opportunistic infections in immunocompromised individuals and patients ventilated mechanically and is the major pathogen in patients with cystic fibrosis, in which it causes chronic infections. Epidemiological, in vitro and animal data suggest a role for respiratory virus infections in facilitating colonization and infection with P. aeruginosa. A study was undertaken to determine whether respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection could facilitate the initiation of an acute infection with P. aeruginosa in vivo. Balb/c mice were infected intranasally with P. aeruginosa, with and without simultaneous inoculation with RSV. Lung function measurements were undertaken using Whole Body Plethysmography and lungs were harvested 24 hr after inoculation. Mice exposed to RSV and P. aeruginosa showed 2,000 times higher colony-forming units (CFU) counts of P. aeruginosa in the lung homogenates when compared to mice which were only infected with P. aeruginosa and lung function changes were more severe in co-infected mice. Control mice receiving RSV alone showed no significant changes in lung function or cytokine production, and no inflammatory changes in the lung parenchyma. These results suggest that RSV can facilitate the initiation of acute P. aeruginosa infection without the RSV infection being clinically apparent. This could have implications for treatment strategies to prevent opportunistic P. aeruginosa lung infection.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / immunology
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung / physiology
  • Lung / virology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Pseudomonas Infections / etiology*
  • Pseudomonas Infections / metabolism
  • Pseudomonas Infections / microbiology
  • Pseudomonas Infections / pathology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / growth & development
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / pathogenicity*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / complications
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / immunology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / metabolism
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / virology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / pathogenicity
  • Virulence


  • Cytokines