Soil exposure modulates the immune response to an influenza challenge in a mouse model

Sci Total Environ. 2024 Apr 20:922:170865. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.170865. Epub 2024 Feb 8.


There is increasing evidence that early life microbial exposure aids in immune system maturation, more recently known as the "old friends" hypothesis. To test this hypothesis, 4-week-old mice were exposed to soils of increasing microbial diversity for four weeks followed by an intranasal challenge with either live or heat inactivated influenza A virus and monitored for 7 additional days. Perturbations of the gut and lung microbiomes were explored through 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. RNA-sequencing was used to examine the host response in the lung tissue through differential gene expression. We determined that compared to the gut microbiome, the lung microbiome is more susceptible to changes in beta diversity following soil exposure with Lachnospiraceae ASVs accounting for most of the differences between groups. While several immune system genes were found to be significantly differentially expressed in lung tissue due to soil exposures, there were no differences in viral load or weight loss. This study shows that exposure to diverse microbial communities through soil exposure alters the gut and lung microbiomes resulting in differential expression of specific immune system related genes within the lung following an influenza challenge.

Keywords: Environment; Gut; Lung; Microbiome; Old friends hypothesis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Influenza, Human*
  • Mice
  • Microbiota*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Soil


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Soil