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Does an Influenza-A-virus triggered immune response release growth factors for bacterial co-infections? (phD project)

The aim of this project is to clarify, if Influenza-A-viruses (IAV) can induce neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) in the host, which could increase the growth of bacterial lung pathogens and if the amount of host-DNase during an IAV-infection has an influence on the severity of bacterial co-infections.

Pneumonia is a major challenge for human medicine, until today and displays the most common cause of death within the infectious diseases, even in industrialized nations. The Influenza-A-virus appears with a new, slightly altered, strain every year and causes a burden with high costs and casualties during every new flu season. As well as in pig husbandry the influenza virus leads to heavy losses and animal suffering. Not only in rare cases are bacterial coinfections involved. Better insights into these host-pathogen-interactions are needed to develop new and further treatment strategies, considering the emergence of (multi-) resistant pathogens.

Against the common level of knowledge, NETs formed by neutrophil granulocytes do not act antimicrobial against representatives of the families Pasteurellaceae and Haemophilus but instead promote their growth by acting as a substrate after being degraded by the host’s nucleases. As a part of the work we want to clarify if IAV can trigger the production of NETs and if this leads to a growth benefit of different bacteria in the lung of humans or pigs.

During this project new insights can be made about IAV acting as a zoonotic pathogen affecting the immune system of its human or porcine hosts and inducing bacterial co-infections. These insights may be helpful during the development of new treatment strategies against co-infections.




01.09.2020 – 31.05.2023


Contact person:

Nicole de Buhr, PhD

Department of Physiological Chemistry & Research Center for Emerging Infections and Zoonoses (RIZ)

Research Group Infection Biochemistry

University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover