Background: Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV), which can cause hemorrhagic fever-like illness, is a newly discovered bunyavirus in China. The pathogenesis of SFTSV infection is poorly understood. However, it has been suggested that immune mechanisms, including cytokines and chemokines, play an important role in disease pathogenesis. In the present study, we investigated host cytokine and chemokine profiles in serum samples of patients with SFTSV infection from Northeast China and explored a possible correlation between cytokine levels and disease severity.
Methods and principal findings: Acute phase serum samples from 40 patients, diagnosed with SFTSV infection were included. Patients were divided into two groups--severe or non-severe--based on disease severity. Levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β, interleukin-6, interferon (IFN)-γ, IFN- γ-induced protein (IP)-10 and RANTES were measured in the serum samples with commercial ELISAs. Statistical analysis showed that increases in TNF-α, IP-10 and IFN-γ were associated with disease severity.
Conclusions: We suggest that a cytokine-mediated inflammatory response, characterized by cytokine and chemokine production imbalance, might be in part responsible for the disease progression of patients with SFTSV infection.