Background/aims: Coronavirus (CoV) infections induce respiratory tract illnesses and central nervous system (CNS) diseases. We aimed to explore the cytokine expression profiles in hospitalized children with CoV-CNS and CoV-respiratory tract infections.
Methods: A total of 183 and 236 hospitalized children with acute encephalitis-like syndrome and respiratory tract infection, respectively, were screened for anti-CoV IgM antibodies. The expression profiles of multiple cytokines were determined in CoV-positive patients.
Results: Anti-CoV IgM antibodies were detected in 22/183 (12.02%) and 26/236 (11.02%) patients with acute encephalitis-like syndrome and respiratory tract infection, respectively. Cytokine analysis revealed that the level of serum granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) was significantly higher in both CoV-CNS and CoV-respiratory tract infection compared with healthy controls. Additionally, the serum level of granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) was significantly higher in CoV-CNS infection than in CoV-respiratory tract infection. In patients with CoV-CNS infection, the levels of IL-6, IL-8, MCP-1, and GM-CSF were significantly higher in their cerebrospinal fluid samples than in matched serum samples.
Conclusion: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report showing a high incidence of CoV infection in hospitalized children, especially with CNS illness. The characteristic cytokine expression profiles in CoV infection indicate the importance of host immune response in disease progression.
© 2017 S. Karger AG, Basel.