Influenza followed by severe acute bacterial pneumonia is a major cause of mortality worldwide. Several mechanisms account for this enhanced susceptibility, including increased production of type I interferon (IFN). In individuals infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the influence of acute viral infections on tuberculosis progression is unclear. We show that prior exposure of mice to influenza A virus, followed by M. tuberculosis infection, leads to enhanced mycobacterial growth and decreased survival. Following M. tuberculosis/influenza virus coinfection, mycobacterial growth is enhanced by a type I IFN signaling pathway. Our findings highlight the detrimental influence influenza virus infection can have before or during M. tuberculosis infection.
Keywords: Interferon; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; co-infection; influenza; tuberculosis; type I IFN.