The Host Response to Influenza A Virus Interferes with SARS-CoV-2 Replication during Coinfection

hei Oishi, Shu Horiuchi, Judith M Minkoff, Benjamin R tenOever

10.1128/jvi.00765-22 20/07/2022

PMID: 35862681


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and influenza A virus (IAV) represent two highly transmissible airborne pathogens with pandemic capabilities. Although these viruses belong to separate virus families-SARS-CoV-2 is a member of the family Coronaviridae, while IAV is a member of the family Orthomyxoviridae-both have shown zoonotic potential, with significant animal reservoirs in species in close contact with humans. The two viruses are similar in their capacity to infect human airways, and coinfections resulting in significant morbidity and mortality have been documented. Here, we investigate the interaction between SARS-CoV-2 USA-WA1/2020 and influenza H1N1 A/California/04/2009 virus during coinfection. Competition assays in vitro were performed in susceptible cells that were either interferon type I/III (IFN-I/-III) nonresponsive or IFN-I/-III responsive, in addition to an in vivo golden hamster model. We find that SARS-CoV-2 infection does not interfere with IAV biology in vivo, regardless of timing between the infections. In contrast, we observe a significant loss of SARS-CoV-2 replication following IAV infection. The latter phenotype correlates with increased levels of IFN-I/-III and immune priming that interferes with the kinetics of SARS-CoV-2 replication. Together, these data suggest that cocirculation of SARS-CoV-2 and IAV is unlikely to result in increased severity of disease. IMPORTANCE The human population now has two circulating respiratory RNA viruses with high pandemic potential, namely, SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A virus. As both viruses infect the airways and can result in significant morbidity and mortality, it is imperative that we also understand the consequences of getting coinfected. Here, we demonstrate that the host response to influenza A virus uniquely interferes with SARS-CoV-2 biology although the inverse relationship is not evident. Overall, we find that the host response to both viruses is comparable to that to SARS-CoV-2 infection alone.

Keywords: H1N1; PASC; RNA sequencing; anosmia; endemic; host response; interference; interferon; long COVID; pandemic.