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Using gene expression profiles from peripheral blood to identify asymptomatic responses to acute respiratory viral infections

Alexander Statnikov12*, Nikita I Lytkin1, Lauren McVoy3, Jörn-Hendrik Weitkamp4 and Constantin F Aliferis135

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Health Informatics and Bioinformatics, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA

2 Department of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA

3 Department of Pathology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA

4 Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, TN 37232, USA

5 Department of Biostatistics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, 37232, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:264  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-264

Published: 20 October 2010

Abstract

Background

A recent study reported that gene expression profiles from peripheral blood samples of healthy subjects prior to viral inoculation were indistinguishable from profiles of subjects who received viral challenge but remained asymptomatic and uninfected. If true, this implies that the host immune response does not have a molecular signature. Given the high sensitivity of microarray technology, we were intrigued by this result and hypothesize that it was an artifact of data analysis.

Findings

Using acute respiratory viral challenge microarray data, we developed a molecular signature that for the first time allowed for an accurate differentiation between uninfected subjects prior to viral inoculation and subjects who remained asymptomatic after the viral challenge.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that molecular signatures can be used to characterize immune responses to viruses and may improve our understanding of susceptibility to viral infection with possible implications for vaccine development.