Simultaneous infections with multiple pathogens can alter the function of the host's immune system, often resulting in additive or synergistic morbidity. We examined how coinfection with the common pathogens Sin Nombre virus (SNV) and Bartonella sp. affected aspects of the adaptive and innate immune responses of wild deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus). Adaptive immunity was assessed by measuring SNV antibody production; innate immunity was determined by measuring levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in blood and the complement activity of plasma. Coinfected mice had reduced plasma complement activity and higher levels of CRP compared to mice infected with either SNV or Bartonella. However, antibody titers of deer mice infected with SNV were more than double those of coinfected mice. Plasma complement activity and CRP levels did not differ between uninfected deer mice and those infected with only Bartonella, suggesting that comorbid SNV and Bartonella infections act synergistically, altering the innate immune response. Collectively, our results indicated that the immune response of deer mice coinfected with both SNV and Bartonella differed substantially from individuals infected with only one of these pathogens. Results of our study provided unique, albeit preliminary, insight into the impacts of coinfection on immune system function in wild animal hosts and underscore the complexity of the immune pathways that exist in coinfected hosts.
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Vol. 54 • No. 1