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Characterization of antibiotic resistance and host-microbiome interactions in the human upper respiratory tract during influenza infection

  • Zhang, Lingdi1
  • Forst, Christian V.2
  • Gordon, Aubree3
  • Gussin, Gabrielle1
  • Geber, Adam B.1
  • Fernandez, Porfirio J.1
  • Ding, Tao1
  • Lashua, Lauren1
  • Wang, Minghui2
  • Balmaseda, Angel4, 5
  • Bonneau, Richard1
  • Zhang, Bin2
  • Ghedin, Elodie1, 1
  • 1 New York University, New York, NY, 10003, USA , New York (United States)
  • 2 Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, 10029, USA , New York (United States)
  • 3 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109, USA , Ann Arbor (United States)
  • 4 Ministry of Health, Managua, Nicaragua , Managua (Nicaragua)
  • 5 Sustainable Sciences Institute, Managua, Nicaragua , Managua (Nicaragua)
Published Article
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Mar 17, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s40168-020-00803-2
Springer Nature


BackgroundThe abundance and diversity of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in the human respiratory microbiome remain poorly characterized. In the context of influenza virus infection, interactions between the virus, the host, and resident bacteria with pathogenic potential are known to complicate and worsen disease, resulting in coinfection and increased morbidity and mortality of infected individuals. When pathogenic bacteria acquire antibiotic resistance, they are more difficult to treat and of global health concern. Characterization of ARG expression in the upper respiratory tract could help better understand the role antibiotic resistance plays in the pathogenesis of influenza-associated bacterial secondary infection.ResultsThirty-seven individuals participating in the Household Influenza Transmission Study (HITS) in Managua, Nicaragua, were selected for this study. We performed metatranscriptomics and 16S rRNA gene sequencing analyses on nasal and throat swab samples, and host transcriptome profiling on blood samples. Individuals clustered into two groups based on their microbial gene expression profiles, with several microbial pathways enriched with genes differentially expressed between groups. We also analyzed antibiotic resistance gene expression and determined that approximately 25% of the sequence reads that corresponded to antibiotic resistance genes mapped to Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus. Following construction of an integrated network of ARG expression with host gene co-expression, we identified several host key regulators involved in the host response to influenza virus and bacterial infections, and host gene pathways associated with specific antibiotic resistance genes.ConclusionsThis study indicates the host response to influenza infection could indirectly affect antibiotic resistance gene expression in the respiratory tract by impacting the microbial community structure and overall microbial gene expression. Interactions between the host systemic responses to influenza infection and antibiotic resistance gene expression highlight the importance of viral-bacterial co-infection in acute respiratory infections like influenza.Video abstract

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