The Severity of Flu Symptoms Can be Predicted Through Immune Signature

A new clinical study upon influenza showed that it’s possible to predict the disease’s outcome and development of severe symptoms though the patient’s immune signature. The researchers also added that the study may help doctors understand the high occurrence rate of complications in small children with influenza.

Flu Symptoms

All Ages Individuals

The ongoing study collected data from 84 people, randomly chosen from communities. Their age group was 3 weeks up to 71 yearsold, with 41% of the participants being children under 23 months of age.

Researchers gathered blood, nasal swabs and nasal wash samples from all the participants in order to track their flu evolution on a period of 28 days. Samples were collected in the first day the patients had presented themselves in a doctor’s office and the next samples were taken in the 3rd, 7th, 10th and 28th day.

Extended Sample Gathering

The team of researchers also collected samples from the patients household, who volunteered for the study.  They analyzed levels of 42 cytokines, proteins with role in cellular signaling, and the levels of antibodies during the body’s fight with the flu.

Children Response more Violent to the Flu

All patients were able to clear out the flu from their system in a 7 day to 10 days period. But, unexpectedly, there were the children whose immune system reacted more violent on the flu virus and caused severe symptoms. This result explains why small children develop high fever, severe coughing and nasal issues, compared to pre-teens, teen and adults, which don’t develop such severe symptoms or none at all.

Three Cytokines are Related to Severe Symptoms

Researchers identified three particular cytokines related to violent response against the flu. These three types of cytokines (MCP-3, interferon alpha 2 in the nasal and interleukin-10 in the blood )predicted severe symptoms in later stages of illness, which sometimes can be so severe that can lead to hospitalization.  First two markers trigger inflammation, while the third one stops it.

Inflammation cytokines are linked to white blood cells “called upon” to relieve the virus, but some of them can actually induce a contradictory response in the body and delay the healing process.

Overall, the study lead researchers to the conclusion that more efficient treatments must be developed on the basis of the immune signature recently discovered. These will be therapies complementary to the ones targeted at clearing the virus from the patient’s body.