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J Infect Dis. 2011 Jan 15;203(2):149-57. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiq042.

Persistent arthralgia induced by Chikungunya virus infection is associated with interleukin-6 and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor.

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Communicable Disease Centre, Singapore.



Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) infection induces arthralgia. The involvement of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines has been suggested, but very little is known about their secretion profile in CHIKV-infected patients.


A case-control longitudinal study was performed that involved 30 adult patients with laboratory-confirmed Chikungunya fever. Their profiles of clinical disease, viral load, and immune mediators were investigated.


When patients were segregated into high viral load and low viral load groups during the acute phase, those with high viremia had lymphopenia, lower levels of monocytes, neutrophilia, and signs of inflammation. The high viral load group was also characterized by a higher production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interferon-α and interleukin (IL)-6, during the acute phase. As the disease progressed to the chronic phase, IL-17 became detectable. However, persistent arthralgia was associated with higher levels of IL-6 and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor, whereas patients who recovered fully had high levels of Eotaxin and hepatocyte growth factor.


The level of CHIKV viremia during the acute phase determined specific patterns of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which were associated with disease severity. At the chronic phase, levels of IL-6, and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor found to be associated with persistent arthralgia provide a possible explanation for the etiology of arthralgia that plagues numerous CHIKV-infected patients.

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