Cytokine gene expression and protein production in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of children with acute dengue virus infections



Plasma leakage in dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is associated with elevated plasma levels of cytokines. To define further the contribution of immune activation to DHF and the source of cytokines, we analyzed the production of cytokines in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) obtained from children with dengue, using RT-PCR and immunostaining. Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and TNF-β expression was detected in all samples by PCR and in < 50% of samples by immunostaining. Interferon-γ (IFN-γ) expression was detected in < 50% of samples by either method. Interleukin-2 (IL-2) and IL-4 expression was detected in a few samples by immunostaining but was not detectable by PCR. We found greater expression of TNF-α and IL-4 in DHF than in dengue fever or other (non-dengue) febrile illnesses. These results support the model of immunopathogenesis of DHF. However, low levels of cytokine expression in PBMC suggest that cellular activation in tissues may contribute to high serum cytokine levels in DHF. J. Med. Virol. 67:41–46, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.