Background Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of severe chronic airway disease, such as nasal polyps. However the mechanisms underlying the initiation of damage and/or invasion of the nasal mucosa by S. aureus are not clearly understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the interaction between S. aureus and herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) in the invasion of the nasal mucosa and nasal polyp tissue. Methodology/Principal Findings Inferior turbinate and nasal polyp samples were cultured and infected with either HSV1 alone, S. aureus alone or a combination of both. Both in turbinate mucosa and nasal polyp tissue, HSV1, with or without S. aureus incubation, led to focal infection of outer epithelial cells within 48 h, and loss or damage of the epithelium and invasion of HSV1 into the lamina propria within 72 h. After pre-infection with HSV1 for 24 h or 48 h, S. aureus was able to pass the basement membrane and invade the mucosa. Epithelial damage scores were significantly higher for HSV1 and S. aureus co-infected explants compared with control explants or S. aureus only-infected explants, and significantly correlated with HSV1-invasion scores. The epithelial damage scores of nasal polyp tissues were significantly higher than those of inferior turbinate tissues upon HSV1 infection. Consequently, invasion scores of HSV1 of nasal polyp tissues were significantly higher than those of inferior turbinate mucosa in the HSV1 and co-infection groups, and invasion scores of S. aureus of nasal polyp tissues were significantly higher than those of inferior turbinate tissues in the co-infection group. Conclusions/Significance HSV1 may lead to a significant damage of the nasal epithelium and consequently may facilitate invasion of S. aureus into the nasal mucosa. Nasal polyp tissue is more susceptible to the invasion of HSV1 and epithelial damage by HSV1 compared with inferior turbinate mucosa.
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