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J Virol. 2014 Jan;88(1):483-9. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02063-13. Epub 2013 Oct 23.

Mobilization of circulating endothelial progenitor cells correlates with the clinical course of hantavirus disease.

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Department of Nephrology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.


Infections with hemorrhagic fever viruses are characterized by increased permeability leading to capillary leakage. Hantavirus infection is associated with endothelial dysfunction, and the clinical course is related to the degree of vascular injury. Circulating endothelial progenitor cells (cEPCs) play a pivotal role in the repair of the damaged endothelium. Therefore, we analyzed the number of cEPCs and their mobilizing growth factors in patients suffering from hantavirus disease induced by infection with Puumala virus. The numbers of EPCs of 36 hantavirus-infected patients and age- and gender-matched healthy controls were analyzed by flow cytometry. Concentrations of cEPC-mobilizing growth factors in plasma were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Laboratory parameters were correlated with the number of cEPCs. In patients infected with hantavirus, the number of cEPCs was significantly higher than that in healthy controls. Levels of mobilizing cytokines were upregulated in patients, and the mobilization of cEPCs is paralleled with the normalization of clinical parameters. Moreover, higher levels of cEPCs correlated with higher serum albumin levels and platelet concentrations. Our data indicate that cEPCs may play a role in the repair of hantavirus-induced endothelial damage, thereby influencing the clinical course and the severity of symptoms.

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