Background: A recent study reported that gene expression profiles from peripheral blood samples of healthy subjects prior to viral inoculation were indistinguishable from profiles of subjects who received viral challenge but remained asymptomatic and uninfected. If true, this implies that the host immune response does not have a molecular signature. Given the high sensitivity of microarray technology, we were intrigued by this result and hypothesize that it was an artifact of data analysis.
Findings: Using acute respiratory viral challenge microarray data, we developed a molecular signature that for the first time allowed for an accurate differentiation between uninfected subjects prior to viral inoculation and subjects who remained asymptomatic after the viral challenge.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that molecular signatures can be used to characterize immune responses to viruses and may improve our understanding of susceptibility to viral infection with possible implications for vaccine development.