Sequential infection with influenza A virus followed by SARS-CoV-2 leads to more severe disease and encephalitis in a mouse model of COVID-19Publication
Date: 13th October 2020 | Source: bioRxiv
COVID-19 is a spectrum of clinical symptoms in humans caused by infection with SARS-CoV-2, a recently emerged coronavirus that has rapidly caused a pandemic. Coalescence of a second wave of this virus with seasonal respiratory viruses, particularly influenza virus is a possible global health concern.
To investigate this, transgenic mice expressing the human ACE2 receptor driven by the epithelial cell cytokeratin-18 gene promoter (K18-hACE2) were first infected with IAV followed by SARS-CoV-2. The host response and effect on virus biology was compared to K18-hACE2 mice infected with IAV or SARS-CoV-2 only.
Infection of mice with each individual virus resulted in a disease phenotype compared to control mice. Although, SARS-CoV-2 RNA synthesis appeared significantly reduced in the sequentially infected mice, these mice had a more rapid weight loss, more severe lung damage and a prolongation of the innate response compared to singly infected or control mice. The sequential infection also exacerbated the extrapulmonary manifestations associated with SARS-CoV-2. This included a more severe encephalitis.
Taken together, the data suggest that the concept of “twinfection” is deleterious and mitigation steps should be instituted as part of a comprehensive public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.