Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Aged Macrophages and Lung during Primary Streptococcus pneumoniae Infection is Improved with Pirfenidone.
Pneumococcal infections remain a leading cause of death in older adults, with the most serious cases occurring in persons ≥65 years of age. There is an urgent need to investigate molecular pathways underlying these impairments and devise new therapeutics to modulate innate immunity. The goal of our current study is to understand the impact of chronological aging on mitochondrial function in response to Streptococcus pneumoniae, a causative agent of bacterial pneumonia. Using chronologically aged murine models, our findings demonstrate that decreased ATP production is associated with dysregulated mitochondrial complex expression, enhanced oxidative stress, diminished antioxidant responses, and decreased numbers of healthy mitochondria in aged adult macrophages and lung in response to S. pneumoniae. Pre-treatment of aged macrophages with pirfenidone, an anti-fibrotic drug with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, improved mitochondrial function and decreased cellular oxidative stress responses. In vivo administration of pirfenidone decreased superoxide formation, increased healthy mitochondria number, improved ATP production, and decreased inflammatory cell recruitment and pulmonary oedema in aged mouse lung during infection. Taken together, our data shed light on the susceptibility of older persons to S. pneumoniae and provide a possible therapeutic to improve mitochondrial responses in this population.