, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 1078–1083 | Cite as

Elevated Serum IL-21 Levels in Hantavirus-Infected Patients Correlate with the Severity of the Disease

  • Hongmei Chen
  • Hongli Liu
  • Yuefei Wang
  • Yucong Yang
  • Yingren Zhao


Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) is an acute viral infection caused by Hantavirus (HTV). Capillary leakage is one of the hallmarks of HTV infection. The mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of HFRS are not completely understood. However, it has been suggested that immune mechanisms, including cytokines, might have an important role in HFRS pathogenesis. In this study, we investigated the potential role of interleukin-21 (IL-21) which is a newly discovered cytokine that stimulates T-cell and B-cell responses in the pathogenesis of HFRS. Serum samples were collected from 58 patients hospitalized with laboratory-verified HTV infection and 20 healthy controls. Serum IL-21 concentration was measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Serum IL-21 levels began to increase in the fever phase when renal damage appeared. The highest serum IL-21 level was detected in oliguric phase along with the peak degree of urinary renal impairment. When entering the polyuric phase, with gradual increase in urine and recovered renal function, the serum IL-21 level was observed to fall, returning to normal level after the renal function recovered in the convalescent phase. The serum IL-21 level was positively correlated with blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine (Cr), suggesting that the serum IL-21 level is associated with the disease severity of HFRS. This study indicated that IL-21 may act as an important inflammatory mediator in the immunopathogenesis of HFRS. The strategy to control IL-21 may hamper the immune response in patients with HFRS.


IL-21 cytokine HFRS 



This project was support by the National Grant Program on Key Infectious Disease of China (Grant no. 2012ZX10002007-002-007) and the Shaanxi province Natural Foundation of China (Grant no. 19100047 and 08140009). The authors would like to extend their appreciations to Dr. Li Guangyu and Dr. Zhang Xiuzhen for manuscript revision.

Conflict of interest

None of the authors have any financial, professional or personal conflicts of interests with the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hongmei Chen
    • 1
  • Hongli Liu
    • 1
  • Yuefei Wang
    • 1
  • Yucong Yang
    • 1
  • Yingren Zhao
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Infectious DiseasesFirst Affiliated Hospital of Medical College, Xi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anChina

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