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Muscle Nerve. 2010 Jan;41(1):42-9. doi: 10.1002/mus.21448.

Neuronal and glial cerebrospinal fluid protein biomarkers are elevated after West Nile virus infection.

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  • 1UCL Institute of Neurology, Department of Neuroinflammation, Queen Square, London, WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom. a.petzold@ion.ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

Neurotrophic West Nile virus (WNV) disease is a severe arbovirus infection in which neuronal loss is the likely anatomical substrate for the high morbidity and mortality. We investigated whether cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) protein biomarkers were elevated in vivo and related to disease severity in patients with WNV infection. This exploratory study included 114 patients (24 acute WNV, 77 noninflammatory controls, six peripheral neuropathies, seven aseptic meningoencephalitis). CSF levels of neuronal (neurofilaments, NfH-SMI35) and glial (glial fibrillary acidic protein, GFAP, S100B) biomarkers were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Immunocytochemistry was performed in two fatal WNV cases. A significant proportion of patients with WNV had pathological CSF levels for NfH-SMI35 (58%, median concentration 1.01 ng/mL), GFAP (58%, 10 pg/mL), and S100B (90%, 1.29 ng/mL). The results were consistent with postmortem evidence for neuronal death and astrogliosis. Surprisingly, CSF protein biomarker levels were also found to be pathological in a considerable proportion of patients who presented with WNV fever only (100% for GFAP and S100B and 43% for NfH-SMI35). Elevated CSF protein biomarker levels are suggestive of neuronal death and glial pathology in human WNV infection. The results indicate the presence of neuroinvasive disease across the spectrum of WNV disease, including WNV fever.

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