Influenza virus has a high mutation rate, such that within one host different viral variants can emerge. Evidence suggests that influenza virus variants are more prevalent in pregnant and/or obese individuals due to their impaired interferon response. We have recently shown that the non-allergic, paucigranulocytic subtype of asthma is associated with impaired type I interferon production. Here, we seek to address if this is associated with an increased emergence of influenza virus variants. Compared to controls, mice with paucigranulocytic asthma had increased disease severity and an increased emergence of influenza virus variants. Specifically, PB1 mutations exclusively detected in asthmatic mice were associated with increased polymerase activity. Furthermore, asthmatic host-derived virus led to increased disease severity in wild-type mice. Taken together, these data suggest that at least a subset of patients with asthma may be more susceptible to severe influenza and may be a possible source of new influenza virus variants.
A paucigranulocytic asthma host environment promotes the emergence of virulent influenza viral variants
Katina D Hulme 1, Anjana C Karawita 1, Cassandra Pegg 1, Myrna Jm Bunte 1, Helle Bielefeldt-Ohmann 1 2 3, Conor J Bloxham 4, Silvie Van den Hoecke 5 6, Yin Xiang Setoh 1 2 7, Bram Vrancken 8, Monique Spronken 9, Lauren E Steele 1, Nathalie Aj Verzele 1, Kyle R Upton 1, Alexander A Khromykh 1 2, Keng Yih Chew 1, Maria Sukkar 10, Simon Phipps 2 11, Kirsty R Short 1 2