The recently published Science article "Prevention and cure of rotavirus infection via TLR5/NLRC4–mediated production of IL-22 and IL-18" indicated that bacteria can play a role in combating viruses by activating innate immunity. They found that the binding of flagellin receptors, Toll-like receptor 5(TLR 5) and Nod-like receptor C4(NLRC4), to flagellin stimulated the production of the cytokine IL22 and IL-18 respectively. The increased presence of IL-22 and IL-18 induced a protective mechanism on the epithelial cells in the intestine to take place. As a result treatment with bacterial flagellin resulted in prevention of rotavirus infection in mice and the amelioration of health of mice that had already been sick.
Rotavirus is responsible for approximately 400000 doctor visits and 60-80 deaths in the US per year. It is the leading cause of diarrhea in children. The results of the study could contribute to a new way to prevent and treat the virus and cause a significant reduction in the number of hospital visits, sicknesses, and deaths. The fact that bacterial flagellin has been shown to be an antiviral agent has significant implications for not only rotavirus, but also other viruses because it's an interesting way to look at what approaches to take in the future to attack viruses.