Stimulating antiviral responses to combat antibiotic resistance

Induction of TLR-7 signaling protects from colonization by vancomycin-resistant enterococcus

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A recent article from Eric Pamer's group in Science Translational Medicine shows that Resiquimod (also known as R-848; a Toll-like receptor (TLR)-7 agonist used to treat herpes simplex virus-induced skin lesions and those caused by cutaneous T-cell lymphoma) stimulates innate antiviral responses in the intestine and restores colonization resistance against Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE).

VRE is an important cause of antibiotic-resistant infections in the hospital setting, frequently leading to sepsis. VRE thrives in the intestine of people after antibiotic treatment has depleted their indigenous microbiota, which constitutes a barrier against colonization by other pathogens (an effect known as colonization resistance). Viral infections also induce resistance against invading bacterial pathogens through poorly understood mechanisms.

This study shows that Resiquimod activates an IL-23/IL-22-dependent antiviral pathway that ultimately leads to the expression of the antimicrobial peptide Reg3γ, reestablishing colonization resistance against VRE in antibiotic-treated mice. This therefore points to a possible treatment avenue to prevent enterocccus-induced sepsis, and once again evidences the importance of transkingdom interactions in the microbial world.

Nonia Pariente

Chief Editor, Nature Microbiology

I come from a mid-sized city on the northwestern coast of Spain. My interest in science initially took me to Madrid, where I finished university and received a PhD in molecular biology. In Madrid, I studied RNA virus evolution and new antiviral strategies with Esteban Domingo. I then moved to UCLA, where I focused on developing lentiviral vectors for gene therapy in Irvin Chen’s laboratory. In 2007, I made the plunge from bench to desk and joined the EMBO Reports editorial team as Reviews Editor, becoming Scientific Editor two years later and Senior Editor in 2012. At EMBO Reports, I was responsible for microbiology and immunology, among other areas, and spent many years expanding my understanding and love for all things microbial. In the summer of 2015, I joined the Nature Microbiology editorial launch team, handling all things related to virology and mycology (and for a brief while parasitology) and -after a couple of stints covering microbiology at Nature- I became the Chief Editor of Nature Microbiology in 2019. I look forward to interacting with the community and providing a venue to publish the most important advances in the field.


Go to the profile of Ben Libberton
almost 6 years ago
New uses for drugs that are already approved! This is a great idea, clinical trials must be round the corner right? Or would they not have to do any if the drug is already in use?
Go to the profile of Nonia Pariente
almost 6 years ago
I think clinical trials have to be set up to prove efficacy for every intended use, although the safety and dose-escalation trials might not be necessary, I would imagine