Reactivation of Multiple Viruses in Patients With Sepsis

PLoS One. 2014 Jun 11;9(2):e98819. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0098819. eCollection 2014.

Abstract

A current controversy is whether patients with sepsis progress to an immunosuppressed state. We hypothesized that reactivation of latent viruses occurred with prolonged sepsis thereby providing evidence of clinically-relevant immunosuppression and potentially providing a means to serially-monitor patients' immune status. Secondly, if viral loads are markedly elevated, they may contribute to morbidity and mortality. This study determined if reactivation of herpesviruses, polyomaviruses, and the anellovirus TTV occurred in sepsis and correlated with severity. Serial whole blood and plasma samples from 560 critically-ill septic, 161 critically-ill non-septic, and 164 healthy age-matched patients were analyzed by quantitative-polymerase-chain-reaction for cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr (EBV), herpes-simplex (HSV), human herpes virus-6 (HHV-6), and TTV. Polyomaviruses BK and JC were quantitated in urine. Detectable virus was analyzed with respect to secondary fungal and opportunistic bacterial infections, ICU duration, severity of illness, and survival. Patients with protracted sepsis had markedly increased frequency of detectable virus. Cumulative viral DNA detection rates in blood were: CMV (24.2%), EBV (53.2%), HSV (14.1%), HHV-6 (10.4%), and TTV (77.5%). 42.7% of septic patients had presence of two or more viruses. The 50% detection rate for herpesviruses was 5-8 days after sepsis onset. A small subgroup of septic patients had markedly elevated viral loads (>104-106 DNA copies/ml blood) for CMV, EBV, and HSV. Excluding TTV, DNAemia was uncommon in critically-ill non-septic patients and in age-matched healthy controls. Compared to septic patients without DNAemia, septic patients with viremia had increased fungal and opportunistic bacterial infections. Patients with detectable CMV in plasma had higher 90-day mortality compared to CMV-negative patients; p<0.05. Reactivation of latent viruses is common with prolonged sepsis, with frequencies similar to those occurring in transplant patients on immunosuppressive therapy and consistent with development of an immunosuppressive state. Whether reactivated latent viruses contribute to morbidity and mortality in sepsis remains unknown.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anelloviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Cytomegalovirus / isolation & purification
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / blood
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / complications*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / blood
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / complications*
  • Female
  • Herpes Simplex / blood
  • Herpes Simplex / complications*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Roseolovirus Infections / blood
  • Roseolovirus Infections / complications*
  • Sepsis / blood
  • Sepsis / complications*
  • Sepsis / virology*
  • Viral Load
  • Viremia / blood
  • Viremia / complications