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Serum levels of inflammatory and regulatory cytokines in patients with hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome

Ana Saksida*, Branka Wraber and Tatjana Avšič-Županc

Author Affiliations

Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:142  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-142

Published: 23 May 2011



Hantaviruses are the causative agents of two zoonotic diseases: hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS). The pathogenesis of HFRS is poorly understood. However, it has been suggested that immune mechanisms, including cytokines, might have an important role in HFRS pathogenesis. Thus, the aim of our study was to investigate cytokine profiles in serum samples of HFRS patients from Slovenia and explore a possible correlation between cytokine levels and disease severity.


Acute-phase serum samples from 52 patients, diagnosed with DOBV infection, and 61 patients, diagnosed with PUUV infection, were included in this study. Patients were divided into two groups - severe or mild - based on disease severity. Levels of IL-10, IL-12, INF-γ and TNF-α were measured in the serum samples with commercial ELISA tests.


Increased levels of IL-10, INF-γ, and TNF-α were found in almost all the serum samples tested. On average, higher concentrations were detected in patients infected with DOBV than PUUV. Furthermore, significantly higher levels of IL-10 (P = 0.001) and TNF-α (P = 0.003) were found in patients with a more severe clinical course of disease. The same association between IL-10 (P < 0.001) and TNF-α (P = 0.021), and the severity of the disease was observed also when only patients infected with DOBV were considered. No differences in cytokine concentrations according to disease severity were observed in patients infected with PUUV. Concentrations of serum IL-12 in HFRS patients were in the normal range, however, higher levels were detected in patients infected with PUUV than in patients infected with DOBV.


We suggest that imbalance in production of proinflammatory and regulatory cytokines might be in part responsible for a more severe course of HFRS.