Decreased NLRP3 inflammasome expression in aged lung may contribute to increased susceptibility to secondary Streptococcus pneumoniae infection.
Post-viral pneumococcal pneumonia is a leading morbidity and mortality in older patients (≥65years of age). The goal of our current study is to understand the impact of chronological aging on innate immune responses to a secondary, post viral infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae, a causative agent of bacterial pneumonia. Using aged murine models of infection, our findings demonstrate increased morbidity and mortality in aged mice within 48h post-secondary S. pneumoniae infection. Increased susceptibility of aged mice was associated with decreased TLR1, TLR6, and TLR9 mRNA expression and diminished IL1β mRNA expression. Examination of NLRP3 inflammasome expression illustrated decreased NLRP3 mRNA expression and decreased IL1β production in aged lung in response to secondary S. pneumoniae infection.