Elevation in liver enzymes is associated with increased IL-2 and predicts severe outcomes in clinically apparent dengue virus infection

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The objective of the present study was to assess the circulating TNF-α and IL-2 levels in dengue virus (DENV) infected patients and to correlate these with clinical severity of DENV infections. A single analyte quantitative immunoassay was used to detect TNF-α and IL-2 in 24 dengue fever (DF) and 43 dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) patients, 15 healthy adults and 6 typhoid patients. The mean TNF-α and IL-2 levels of DENV- infected patients were higher than that of healthy adults and typhoid patients. No significant difference in TNF-α levels was noted between DF and DHF patients (p = 0.5) but a significant increase in IL-2 levels was observed in DHF compared with DF patients (mean of DF = 59.7 pg/mL, mean of DHF = 166.9 pg/mL; p = 0.02). No significant association of TNF-α or IL-2 levels was noted with packed cell volume (>45), thrombocytopenia, leucopenia or the presence of viraemia. The liver function tests measuring AST (aspartate aminotransferase) (p = 0.01) and ALT (alanine aminotransferase) (p = 0.02) levels were significantly elevated in DENV-infected patients. AST:ALT was significantly elevated in DHF/DSS (dengue shock syndrome) compared with DF patients. A significant positive linear correlation was noted between AST and IL-2 (r = 0.31; p = 0.01) and ALT and IL-2 elevations (r = 0.2; p = 0.02). Thus, AST and ALT levels correlate with both disease severity and circulating IL-2 levels. We suggest a role for circulating IL-2 in liver dysfunction and propose that a combined assessment of AST/ALT in conjunction with IL-2 at the early stages of symptomatic DENV infection may be useful to predict the severe forms of dengue.

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