Report Describes Immune Response to West Nile

May be used to develop therapeutics

WEDNESDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- A scientist who was accidentally infected with West Nile virus in the laboratory has an immune response that could be exploited for therapeutics, according to a case report in the March 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Marietjie Venter, Ph.D., from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and colleagues describe the case of a 29-year-old healthy female scientist who became infected with lineage 2 West Nile virus after a needlestick injury, and her subsequent immune response.

The researchers found that symptoms developed on day seven after infection and recovery was complete by day 26. After measuring the levels of 16 cytokines in serum at various times after infection, they found that the largest increases occurred for interferon-alpha from days eight, nine and 13, interferon-inducible protein-10 on day eight, interleukin-13 on days 0 to 11, interleukin-6 and -8 on day 16, and interleukin-15 on day 11. There was a slight increase in tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-5 on day 11.

"The cytokines identified in the current study may serve as additional targets for the development of therapeutic interventions by suppressing proinflammatory responses (by interleukin-13, interleukin-6 and interleukin-8) or supplementing type 1 helper T cell responses (tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interferon-gamma and interferon-alpha)," Venter and colleagues conclude.

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