Amali Samarasinghe, Ph.D.

Amali Samarasinghe, Ph.D.

Institution: The University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Project: Influenza Virus Promotes Eosinophil Appetite for Bacteria

Grant(s): Innovation Award

Many people are burdened with more than one disease at a time, largely due to incidence of chronic diseases such as asthma, COPD, diabetes and obesity. Therefore, during influenza season, a large number of flu patients have underlying complications. This changes the immune system’s response. Understanding how the immune system in a patient with underlying asthma responds to respiratory infections is important for personalized approaches to therapy. Our research is focused on eosinophils, cells that are of utmost importance to the development of asthma, and how they respond to influenza virus and Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria when exposed to both agents simultaneously. Our data suggest that exposure to a virus improves the antibacterial functions in eosinophils. Our studies are aimed at understanding the mechanisms by which this occurs in order to identify novel therapeutic avenues to counter bacterial pneumonia that results after influenza.

The Charles & Amelia Gould Innovation Award

Update:

We have determined that eosinophils possess antibacterial properties that include bacterial uptake and killing and that these functions are enhanced in eosinophils after influenza virus exposure. We have also identified receptors on eosinophils that play crucial roles in bacterial uptake. These early findings are intriguing as they suggest additional mechanisms by which asthma mitigates the severity of respiratory pathogen infections.

Eosinophils have potent antibacterial properties including engulfment of large numbers of bacteria, bacterial killing, and the release of antibacterial agents. These antibacterial functions are enhanced when eosinophils have had a prior exposure to influenza A virus. These early findings are intriguing as they suggest additional mechanisms by which asthma mitigates the severity of respiratory pathogen infections.

Freedom From Smoking Clinic
, | Sep 29, 2021
COPD Educator Course
, | Oct 20, 2021