An interferon-gamma-related cytokine storm in SARS patients

J Med Virol. 2005 Feb;75(2):185-94. doi: 10.1002/jmv.20255.


Fourteen cytokines or chemokines were analyzed on 88 RT-PCR-confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) patients. IFN-gamma, IL-18, TGF-beta, IL-6, IP-10, MCP-1, MIG, and IL-8, but not of TNF-alpha, IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, IL-13, or TNFRI, were highly elevated in the acute phase sera of Taiwan SARS patients. IFN-gamma was significantly higher in the Ab(+) group than in the Ab(-) group. IFN-gamma, IL-18, MCP-1, MIG, and IP-10 were already elevated at early days post fever onset. Furthermore, levels of IL-18, IP-10, MIG, and MCP-1 were significantly higher in the death group than in the survival group. For the survival group, IFN-gamma and MCP-1 were inversely associated with circulating lymphocytes count and monocytes count, but positively associated with circulating neutrophils count. It is concluded that an interferon-gamma-related cytokine storm was induced post SARS coronavirus infection, and this cytokine storm might be involved in the immunopathological damage in SARS patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Chemokines / blood
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / immunology*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / mortality
  • Taiwan


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Interferon-gamma