Rhinoviruses promote internalisation of Staphylococcus aureus into non-fully permissive cultured pneumocytes

Claudio Passariello, Serena Schippa, Cinzia Conti, Patrizia Russo, Federica Poggiali, Enrico Garaci, Anna Teresa Palamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Respiratory viruses, including rhinoviruses, frequently promote bacterial opportunistic infections, through mechanisms that still deserve to be investigated in detail. This work was aimed at understanding how a viral infection mostly affecting the upper respiratory tract, such as the common cold, can repeatedly promote opportunistic infections in the lower airways, a site where viral replication is limited. The adhesivity and invasivity of Staphylococcus aureus were evaluated, in permissive and non-permissive cells, infected with Rhinovirus-1b. The role of inflammatory cytokines, and of ICAM-1 overexpression in the Rhinovirus-S. aureus cooperation was evaluated. Rhinovirus-1b enhanced the efficiency of internalisation of S. aureus irrespective of cellular permissivity, even when very low viral multiplicities of infection were used. Experiments performed with UV inactivated and heat inactivated viral particles suggested that this enhancement does not depend upon viral replication, but requires viral adhesion. Experimental data suggest that Rhinovirus-1b can significantly increase the ability of S. aureus to internalise into pneumocytes with a mechanism that involves the virus induced release of IL-6 and IL-8, and the overexpression of ICAM-1. Overall data disclose a possible mechanism through which rhinoviruses can promote bacterial infections in the lower respiratory tract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-766
Number of pages9
JournalMicrobes and Infection
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • Cytokines
  • ICAM-1
  • Internalisation
  • Rhinovirus
  • Staphylococcus aureus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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