Cytokine profiles of severe influenza virus-related complications in children

PALISI PICFlu Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Rationale: Effective immunomodulatory therapies for children with life-threatening "cytokine storm" triggered by acute influenza infection are lacking. Understanding the immune profiles of children progressing to severe lung injury and/or septic shock could provide insight into pathogenesis. Objectives: To compare the endotracheal and serum cytokine profiles of children with influenza-related critical illness and to identify their associations with severe influenza-associated complications. Methods: Children with influenza-related critical illness were enrolled across 32 hospitals in development (N = 171) and validation (N = 73) cohorts (December 2008 through May 2016). Concentrations of 42 cytokines were measured in serum and endotracheal samples and clustered into modules of covarying cytokines. Relative concentrations of cytokines and cytokine modules were tested for associations with acute lung injury (ALI), shock requiring vasopressors, and death/ECMO. Measurements and main results: Modules of covarying cytokines were more significantly associated with disease severity than individual cytokines. In the development cohort, increased levels of a serum module containing IL6, IL8, IL10, IP10, GCSF, MCP1, and MIP1a [shock odds ratio (OR) = 3.37, family-wise error rate (FWER) p < 10-4], and decreased levels of a module containing EGF, FGF2, SCD40L, and PAI-1 (shock OR = 0.43, FWER p = 0.002), were both associated with ALI, shock, and death-ECMO independent of age and bacterial coinfection. Both of these associations were confirmed in the validation cohort. Endotracheal and serum cytokine associations differed markedly and were differentially associated with clinical outcomes. Conclusion: We identified strong positive and negative associations of cytokine modules with the most severe influenza-related complications in children, providing new insights into the pathogenesis of influenza-related critical illness in children. Effective therapies may need to target mediators of both inflammation and repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1423
JournalFrontiers in immunology
Issue numberNOV
StatePublished - Nov 6 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the patients and their families for participation in the study. We gratefully acknowledge the collaboration of the PALISI PICFlu Study Site Investigators and medical staff who enrolled patients and made other major contributions to this study (see the Presentation S1 in Supplementary Material for full list of investigators). This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH AI084011 to AR, NIH AI068635 to AF-G, NIH AI107625 to PT, NHLBI HL51856 to MM) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Fiore-Gartland, Panoskaltsis-Mortari, Agan, Mistry, Thomas, Matthay, PALISI PICFlu Investigators, Hertz and Randolph.


  • Acute lung injury
  • Cytokine
  • Inflammation
  • Influenza
  • Septic shock


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