Immune Response Differs in SARS Patients
Apr 15, 2005 - 5:04:38 PM

Chinese investigators have revealed that the early presence of interferon-inducible protein 10 (IP-10), an immunoregulatory protein, is a prominent characteristic of the body's immune reaction to the coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The disease itself differs from other non-SARS viral infections that cause no increase in IP-10. The researchers believe that levels of the protein could make a difference in both diagnosis and the development of an effective treatment for the disease.

The investigators screened 14 cytokines/chemokines (immunoregulatory proteins) in the blood of 23 patients with SARS and 25 non-SARS patients with atypical pneumonia. The SARS patients were separated into 4 groups, according the disease's course: early stage---2 days after onset of fever; progressive stage--10 to 20 days after onset; end stage--the day before death; and convalescent stage--15 to 30 days after discharge from the hospital.

They said that IP-10 was markedly elevated in the blood during the early stage of SARS, and remained at a high level during convalescence. Also, they said that IP-10 was highly expressed in both lung and lymphoid tissues.

The investigators pointed out that immunopathologic injury of host cells triggered by the immune response to virus plays a key role in the pathogenesis of virus infections. Many cytokines/chemokines released from activated immune cells not only take part in the process of antiviral immune response, but are also involved in cell damage and development of organ dysfunction. Determination of these soluble factors in the blood should aid their understanding of the immunologic processes of SARS and enable differential diagnosis of SARS from other atypical pneumonias that require quite different approaches to the management of patients.

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