Background. Ebola virus (EBOV) infection causes a severe and often fatal disease. Despite the fact that more than 30 000 individuals have acquired Ebola virus disease (EVD), the medical and scientific community still does not have a clear understanding of the mechanisms by which EBOV causes such severe disease.
Methods. In this study, 54 biomarkers in plasma samples serially collected from 7 patients with EVD were analyzed in an attempt to define the kinetics of inflammatory modulators. Two clinical disease groups were defined (moderate and severe) based on the need for clinical support. Biomarkers were evaluated for correlation with viremia and clinical disease in an effort to identify pathways that could be useful targets of therapeutic intervention.
Results. Patients with severe disease had higher viremia than those with moderate disease. Several biomarkers of immune activation and control were significantly elevated in patients with moderate disease. A series of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines were significantly elevated in patients with severe disease.
Conclusions. Biomarkers that were associated with severe EVD were proinflammatory and indicative of endothelial or coagulation cascade dysfunction, as has been seen historically in patients with fatal outcomes. In contrast, biomarkers that were associated with moderate EVD were suggestive of a strong interferon response and control of both innate and adaptive responses. Therefore, clinical interventions that modulate the phenotype and magnitude of immune activation may be beneficial in treating EVD.