Cytokine and Adhesion Molecule Expression Evolves Between the Neutrophilic and Lymphocytic Phases of Viral Meningitis

J Interferon Cytokine Res. 2010 Sep;30(9):661-5. doi: 10.1089/jir.2009.0113.


Viral meningitis is characterized by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) lymphocyte pleocytosis, although neutrophils may predominate in the early phase. The T helper 1 (Th1)/Th2 cytokine balance and expression of adhesion molecules seem to be involved in the CSF chemotaxis. We aimed to determine expression of cytokines and adhesion molecules in enteroviral meningitis. We investigated the serum and CSF levels of adhesion molecules (E-selectin, L-selectin, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 [VCAM-1], and intracellular adhesion molecule-1 [ICAM-1]) and cytokines (interleukin-12 [IL-12] and IL-4) in 105 children during an outbreak of enteroviral meningitis. Diagnosis was confirmed with positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and/or serology for echovirus or Coxsackie virus, and matched with control subjects for clinical features but with negative PCR and/or serology. Apart from VCAM-1, the CSF levels of all investigated inflammatory molecules were significantly increased. In serum, sL-selectin and ICAM-1 levels were significantly higher than control subjects. Serum and CSF L-selectin, serum VCAM-1, and CSF IL-12 were all observed to be expressed in significantly higher levels in the neutrophil-dominant subgroup (72% had duration of symptoms <24 h) than in the lymphocyte-dominant group (87.5% had duration of symptoms >24 h). Serum and CSF ICAM-1 was found at significantly higher levels in the latter group. Evolving expression of adhesion molecules and cytokines indicates a shift from Th1 to Th2 immune responses as infection progresses.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / biosynthesis
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / blood
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / cytology
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / immunology
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / metabolism*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / virology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Enterovirus / immunology*
  • Enterovirus / pathogenicity
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interleukin-12 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-12 / blood
  • Interleukin-12 / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Interleukin-12 / genetics
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-4 / blood
  • Interleukin-4 / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Leukocytosis
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Lymphocytes / virology
  • Male
  • Meningitis, Viral / blood
  • Meningitis, Viral / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Meningitis, Viral / immunology*
  • Meningitis, Viral / physiopathology
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Neutrophils / pathology
  • Neutrophils / virology
  • Th1-Th2 Balance


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Interleukin-12
  • Interleukin-4