Cytokine levels are associated with the severity of varicella infections
Introduction: Varicella is a highly contagious disease. Epidemics of varicella are seen every year globally and present a threat to public health, especially in China and other developing countries.
Methodology: Clinical and laboratory findings of 865 varicella patients admitted to Beijing You’an Hospital, China, between January 2011 and December 2013 were collected and analyzed. Patients with isolated complication were grouped as SI (skin infection, n = 132) and LD (liver damage, n = 89). Two hundred and one patients without complications were grouped as control (mild group). Levels of T-cell subtypes and eight serum cytokines and were also tested. Levels of IFNg and IL-6 were monitored prospectively in another 12 grouped patients.
Results: SI was complicated in 21.7% (188/865) of varicella cases, and LD was complicated in 16.8% (145/865). The rates of SI and LD in varicella patients increased rapidly in the past three years. No laboratory findings were associated with SI or LD (all p > 0.05). IL-6 and IFNg levels were correlated with amniotic membrane extract (AME) (p = 0.044 and p = 0.038). Their levels peaked at day 1 of admission, and then started to decline.
Conclusions: The incidence of serious complications has become more common in recent years. IL-6 and IFNg may possibly be used as early serum markers for identifying patients at risk of developing complications such as skin infections in varicella.
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