Serum amyloid A (SAA) is an early biomarker of influenza virus disease in BALB/c, C57BL/2, Swiss-Webster, and DBA.2 mice

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Assessment of influenza virus disease progression and efficacy of antiviral therapy in the widely used mouse models relies mostly on body weight loss and lung virus titers as markers of disease. However, both parameters have their shortcomings. Therefore, the aim of our study was to find non-invasive markers in the murine model of severe influenza that could detect disease early and predict disease outcome. BALB/c mice were lethally infected with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus and serum samples were collected at various time points. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were performed to quantify amounts of serum amyloid A (SAA), C-reactive protein, complement 3, transferrin, corticosterone, prostaglandin E2, H2O2, and alpha-2,6-sialyltransferase. We found that SAA was the most promising candidate with levels acutely and temporarily elevated by several hundred-fold 3 days post virus inoculation. Upon treatment with oseltamivir phosphate, levels of SAA were significantly decreased. High levels of SAA were associated with poor disease prognosis, whereas body weight loss was not as a reliable predictor of disease outcome. SAA levels were also transiently increased in BALB/c mice infected with influenza A(H3N2) and influenza B virus, as well as in C57BL/2, Swiss-Webster, and DBA.2 mice infected with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus. High levels of SAA often, but not always, were associated with disease outcome in these other influenza virus mouse models. Therefore, SAA represents a valid biomarker for influenza disease detection in all tested mouse strains but its prognostic value is limited to BALB/c mice infected with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus.HighlightsAcute phase reactants were assessed as potential biomarkers of influenza virus infection in BALB/c mice.Serum amyloid A (SAA) was the most promising biomarker tested.Influenza virus infection also elicited a transient spike in SAA levels in C57BL/2, Swiss-Webster, and DBA.2 mice.SAA levels were significantly lowered by antiviral treatment in BALB/c and DBA.2 mice.SAA levels indicated disease status at day 3 post infection and were associated with disease outcome in BALB/c mice.

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