Haemophilin-producing strains of Haemophilus haemolyticus protect respiratory epithelia from NTHi colonisation and internalisation
Atto, B and Kunde, D and Gell, DA and Tristram, S, Haemophilin-producing strains of Haemophilus haemolyticus protect respiratory epithelia from NTHi colonisation and internalisation, Pathogens, 10, (1) pp. 1-15. ISSN 2076-0817 (2021) [Refereed Article]
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) is a significant respiratory tract pathogen responsible for infections that collectively pose a substantial health and socioeconomic burden. The clinical course of these infections is largely dictated by NTHi interactions with host respiratory epithelia, and thus, approaches that disrupt colonisation and invasion may have significant therapeutic potential. Survival, successful host-cell interactions, and pathogenesis are reliant on NTHi's ability to sequester host-derived haem. Previously, we demonstrated the therapeutic potential of exploiting this haem-dependence using a closely related competitor bacterium, Haemophilus haemolyticus (Hh). Hh strains capable of producing the novel haem-binding protein haemophilin (Hpl) possessed potent inhibitory activity by restricting NTHi access to haem in a broth co-culture environment. Here, we extend this work to cell culture models that more closely represent the human respiratory epithelium and show that Hh strains with high levels of hpl expression protect epithelial cell line monolayers against adhesion and invasion by NTHi. Inhibitory activity was dependent on the level of Hpl production, which was stimulated by NTHi challenge and nasopharyngeal cell exposure. Provided these protective benefits translate to in vivo applications, Hpl-producing Hh may have probiotic utility against NTHi infections by inhibiting requisite nasopharyngeal colonisation.