Background: The limited treatment options for children with severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection highlights the need for a comprehensive understanding of the host cellular response during infection. We aimed to identify host genes that are associated with severe RSV disease and to identify drugs that can be repurposed for the treatment of severe RSV infection. Methods: We examined clinical data and blood samples from 37 hospitalized children (29 mild and 8 severe) with RSV infection. We tested RNA from blood samples using next-generation sequencing to profile global mRNA expression and identify cellular processes. Results: Retractions, decreased breath sounds, and tachypnea were associated with disease severity. We observed upregulation of genes related to neutrophil, inflammatory response, blood coagulation, and downregulation of genes related to T cell response in children with severe RSV. Using network-based approach, 43 drugs were identified that are predicted to interact with the gene products of these differentially expressed genes. Conclusions: These results suggest that the changes in the expression pattern in the innate and adaptive immune responses may be associated with RSV clinical severity. Compounds that target these cellular processes can be repositioned as candidate drugs in the treatment of severe RSV. Impact: Neutrophil, inflammation, and blood coagulation genes are upregulated in children with severe RSV infection.Expression of T cell response genes are suppressed in cases of severe RSV.Genes identified in this study can contribute in understanding the pathogenesis of RSV disease severity.Drugs that target cellular processes associated with severe RSV can be repositioned as potential therapeutic options.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health