Identification of biomarkers for disease severity in nasopharyngeal secretions of infants with upper or lower respiratory tract viral infections

Lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) produced by viruses are the most frequent cause of morbidity and mortality in children younger than 5 years of age. The immune response triggered by viral infection can induce a strong inflammation in the airways and cytokines could be considered as biomarkers for disease severity as these molecules modulate the inflammatory response that defines the outcome of patients. Aiming to predict the severity of disease during respiratory tract infections, we conducted a 1-year follow-up observational study in infants who presented upper or lower respiratory tract infections caused by seasonal respiratory viruses. At the time of enrollment, nasopharyngeal swabs (NPS) were obtained from infants to measure mRNA expression and protein levels of IL-3, IL-8, IL-33, and thymic stromal lymphopoietin. While all cytokines significantly increased their protein levels in infants with upper and lower respiratory tract infections as compared to control infants, IL-33 and IL-8 showed a significant increase in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)-infected patients with LRTI as compared to patients with upper respiratory tract infection. We also found higher viral loads of RSV-positive samples with a greater IL-8 response at the beginning of the symptoms. Data obtained in this study suggest that both IL-8 and IL-33 could be used as biomarkers for clinical severity for infants suffering from LRTIs caused by the RSV.
Cytokines, Respiratory tract infection, RSV