Antibiotics weaken the defense of the virus in the lungs

Flu viruses seem to have an easy game when the intestinal flora is disrupted by taking antibiotics.

© Monkey Business – Fotolia

Thu 04 July 2019

Antibiotics can make the lungs vulnerable to influenza viruses. This is the result of a study on mice performed by scientists from the Francis Crick Institute in London. This could be caused by a disruption of intestinal flora through the use of antibiotics.


When mice with normal intestinal flora were infected with the influenza virus, about 80% of them survived. However, if they had been given antibiotics before the infection, only one-third survived. Responsible for this could be a weakened intestinal flora. Because antibiotics kill not only pathogenic bacteria, but also beneficial bacteria in the gut. This, in turn, weakens the defense in the lungs: The researchers found that the signals from intestinal bacteria helped maintain a first line of defense against viruses in the lung lining.

"This is further evidence that antibiotics should not be taken and prescribed lightly, and that inappropriate use not only promotes antibiotic resistance and kills helpful gut bacteria, but can also make us more susceptible to viruses." ", Commented the study's author, Dr. Andreas Wack's research findings.

By keeping the intestinal bacteria upright, rapid virus proliferation in the lung mucosa is avoided and valuable time is saved. It takes about two days for the immune cells to trigger a reaction. Meanwhile, the virus proliferates in the pulmonary mucosa. Two days after infection, mice treated with antibiotics had five times more virus in the lungs. The immune system responds to such a serious infection with a much more severe response, leading to more serious disease symptoms.


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