Human respiratory coronavirus HKU1 versus other coronavirus infections in Italian hospitalised patients

J Clin Virol. 2007 Mar;38(3):244-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2006.12.008. Epub 2007 Jan 10.


Background: Human respiratory coronavirus (hCoV) HKU1 infections were reported for the first time in 2005 in Hong Kong.

Objective: To investigate epidemiological, clinical, and diagnostic features of HKU1 infections.

Study design: Longitudinal, prospective study from November 2005 through May 2006 in a hospitalised patient population.

Results: Overall, 48/426 (11.3%) patients were found to be infected by hCoV acute respiratory tract infections (ARTI). Of these, 10 (19.2%) were caused by HKU1 (6 single infections and 4 coinfections) during the period January-May 2006. Diagnosis was made by using RT-PCR for all four hCoVs, and in parallel, in-house developed group-specific monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) for HKU1 and 229E. HKU1-specific MAb was able to retrospectively identify 8 of 10 HKU1 strains detected by RT-PCR. Phylogenetic analysis showed that four HKU1 strains were genotype A and six genotype B. In HKU1-infected patients, the predominant clinical symptom was rhinorrhea (nine patients). Within group II hCoV, HKU1-infected patients had a significantly lower rate of lower ARTI compared to OC43-infected patients.

Conclusion: HKU1 hCoV strains circulated in northern Italy during the winter-spring season 2005-2006. Both HKU1 genotypes were detected. HKU1-specific MAb may contribute to the rapid diagnosis of HKU1 infections currently performed by RT-PCR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coronaviridae Infections / diagnosis
  • Coronaviridae Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronaviridae Infections / virology*
  • Coronavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods