Three specific biomarkers provide an accurate indication of the severity of Chikungunya fever (CHIKF), which is emerging as a threat in South-East Asia, the Pacific and Europe, according to research conducted in Singapore.
Since the biomarkers can be easily detected and measured in blood, this finding could expedite identification and monitoring of patients.
The study, the first comprehensive investigation of the many biological factors such as cytokines and chemokines produced in the human body in response to Chikungunya virus infection, was conducted by researchers at A*STAR's Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) and the Communicable Disease Centre (CDC) at Singapore's Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).
Cytokines are proteins, peptides or glycoproteins that belong to a category of signaling molecules that, like hormones and neurotransmitters, are used extensively in cellular communication. Chemokines are small cytokines of relatively low molecular weight that are released by a variety of cells.
The Singapore scientists found that levels of three specific biological factors, interleukin-1, beta, (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and RANTES, distinguished patients with the severe form of the disease from those in whom the infection was mild.
The findings of the study, conducted on blood samples obtained from 10 patients who developed the disease during Singapore's CHIKF outbreak in Jan. 2008, were published online one year later (Jan. 2009) by the PLoS ONE.
Lisa Ng, Ph.D., principal investigator of the Chikungunya research team at SIgN and co-author of the PLoS ONE article, said, "This first comprehensive report, which examines the cellular signals produced as part of the human immune response to Chikungunya virus infection, enables us to understand the changes in molecular signals in the body when infection sets in. These biomarkers can potentially lead to the development of therapeutics to reduce t
|Contact: Cathy Yarbrough|
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore