Background: Children infected with rotavirus often show increased levels of transaminase, and symptoms are characterized by white stool, similar to biliary atresia. Rotavirus infections are also sporadically accompanied with convulsions, encephalopathy and Reye syndrome. The aim of the present study was therefore to investigate transaminase and interleukin (IL)-6 levels in rotavirus infection, in order to better understand their clinical significance.
Methods: Results of liver function tests, mainly the elevation of transaminase and IL-6 in rotavirus gastroenteritis with or without convulsions, were evaluated.
Results: Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels were high in 23 of 26 samples (88.5%), and in three of 26 samples (11.5%), respectively. No significant differences in liver function tests could be found between the groups with or without convulsions. Three patients whose direct bilirubin levels were above the upper normal limit were all classified into the group without convulsions. Spearman's correlation coefficient was 0.89 between increasing AST levels and IL-6 levels.
Conclusion: Rotavirus infection is occasionally accompanied with hepatitis, but only in a mild form, and does not correlate with neurological complications. High levels of transaminase might reflect high IL-6.