Airway response to respiratory syncytial virus has incidental antibacterial effects

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Charles Sande
  • James Njunge
  • Joyce Ngoi
  • Martin Mutunga
  • Timothy Chege
  • Elijah Gicheru
  • Elizabeth Gardiner
  • Agnes Gwela
  • Simon Drysdale
  • James Berkley
  • James Nokes
  • Andrew Pollard

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
  • The Childhood Acute Illness & Nutrition (CHAIN) Network, Nairobi
  • University of Oxford
  • The University of Warwick


RSV infection is typically associated with secondary bacterial infection. We hypothesise that the local airway immune response to RSV has incidental antibacterial effects. Using coordinated proteomics and metagenomics analysis we simultaneously analysed the microbiota and proteomes of the upper airway and determined direct antibacterial activity in airway secretions of RSV-infected children. Here, we report that the airway abundance of Streptococcus was higher in samples collected at the time of RSV infection compared with samples collected one month later. RSV infection is associated with neutrophil influx into the airway and degranulation and is marked by overexpression of proteins with known antibacterial activity including BPI, EPX, MPO and AZU1. Airway secretions of children infected with RSV, have significantly greater antibacterial activity compared to RSV-negative controls. This RSV-associated, neutrophil-mediated antibacterial response in the airway appears to act as a regulatory mechanism that modulates bacterial growth in the airways of RSV-infected children.


Original languageEnglish
Article number2218
Number of pages11
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2019