Live attenuated influenza virus increases pneumococcal translocation and persistence within the middle ear

J Infect Dis. 2015 Jul 15;212(2):195-201. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiu804. Epub 2014 Dec 11.


Background: Infection with influenza A virus (IAV) increases susceptibility to respiratory bacterial infections, resulting in increased bacterial carriage and complications such acute otitis media, pneumonia, bacteremia, and meningitis. Recently, vaccination with live attenuated influenza virus (LAIV) was reported to enhance subclinical bacterial colonization within the nasopharynx, similar to IAV. Although LAIV does not predispose to bacterial pneumonia, whether it may alter bacterial transmigration toward the middle ear, where it could have clinically relevant implications, has not been investigated.

Methods: BALB/c mice received LAIV or phosphate-buffered saline 1 or 7 days before or during pneumococcal colonization with either of 2 clinical isolates, 19F or 7F. Middle ear bacterial titers were monitored daily via in vivo imaging.

Results: LAIV increased bacterial transmigration to and persistence within the middle ear. When colonization followed LAIV inoculation, a minimum LAIV incubation period of 4 days was required before bacterial transmigration commenced.

Conclusions: While LAIV vaccination is safe and effective at reducing IAV and coinfection with influenza virus and bacteria, LAIV may increase bacterial transmigration to the middle ear and could thus increase the risk of clinically relevant acute otitis media. These data warrant further investigations into interactions between live attenuated viruses and naturally colonizing bacterial pathogens.

Keywords: acute otitis media; bacterial transmigration; coinfection; live attenuated influenza virus; middle ear bacterial colonization; pneumococcus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Translocation
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Influenza Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Influenza Vaccines / adverse effects*
  • Influenza Vaccines / immunology
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Otitis Media / immunology
  • Otitis Media / microbiology*
  • Pneumococcal Infections / immunology
  • Pneumococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / physiology
  • Vaccination*
  • Vaccines, Live, Unattenuated / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, Live, Unattenuated / adverse effects
  • Vaccines, Live, Unattenuated / immunology


  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Live, Unattenuated