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Keywords:

  • influenza;
  • lung;
  • pneumococci;
  • pneumonia;
  • transcriptome

Summary

Pneumonia is the most common cause of death from infectious disease in the western hemisphere. Pathophysiological and protective processes are initiated by pattern recognition of microbial structures. To provide the molecular framework for a better understanding of processes relevant to host defence in pneumonia, we performed pulmonary transcriptome analysis in mice infected with the major bacterial and viral agents of community-acquired pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae and influenza A virus. We detected differential expression of 1300 genes after infection with either pathogen. Of these, approximately 36% or 30% were specific for pneumococcal or influenza infection, respectively, yielding pathogen-specific as well as shared inflammatory transcriptional signatures. These results not only reveal a differential response on the cytokine and chemokine levels but also emphasize the important role of genes implicated in regulation and fine tuning of inflammation. As one, albeit unexpected, key feature of pneumococcal pneumonia we discovered down-regulation of B-cell responses, probably reflecting a pneumococcal virulence strategy. The pathophysiological consequences of influenza A virus infection were reflected by the emerging protective T-cell response and differential induction of genes involved in tissue regeneration and proliferation. These data provide new insights into pathogenesis of the most common forms of pneumonia, highlighting the value of transcriptional profiling for the elucidation of underlying mechanisms.