Mass-spectrometric profiling of cerebrospinal fluid reveals metabolite biomarkers for CNS involvement in varicella zoster virus reactivation

Journal of Neuroinflammation. 2018;15(1):1-15 DOI 10.1186/s12974-017-1041-0


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Journal Title: Journal of Neuroinflammation

ISSN: 1742-2094 (Online)

Publisher: BMC

LCC Subject Category: Medicine: Internal medicine: Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry: Neurology. Diseases of the nervous system

Country of publisher: United Kingdom

Language of fulltext: English

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Maike Kuhn (TWINCORE Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research GmbH)
Kurt-Wolfram Sühs (Clinical Neuroimmunology and Neurochemistry, Department of Neurology, Hannover Medical School)
Manas K. Akmatov (TWINCORE Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research GmbH)
Frank Klawonn (Helmholtz-Centre for Infection Research)
Junxi Wang (Helmholtz-Centre for Infection Research)
Thomas Skripuletz (Clinical Neuroimmunology and Neurochemistry, Department of Neurology, Hannover Medical School)
Volkhard Kaever (Research Core Unit Metabolomics, Hannover Medical School)
Martin Stangel (Centre for Individualized Infection Medicine)
Frank Pessler (TWINCORE Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research GmbH)


Blind peer review

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Time From Submission to Publication: 12 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Abstract Background Varicella zoster virus (VZV) reactivation spans the spectrum from uncomplicated segmental herpes zoster to life-threatening disseminated CNS infection. Moreover, in the absence of a small animal model for this human pathogen, studies of pathogenesis at the organismal level depend on analysis of human biosamples. Changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) metabolites may reflect critical aspects of host responses and end-organ damage in neuroinfection and neuroinflammation. We therefore applied a targeted metabolomics screen of CSF to three clinically distinct forms of VZV reactivation and infectious and non-infectious disease controls in order to identify biomarkers for CNS involvement in VZV reactivation. Methods Metabolite profiles were determined by targeted liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry in CSF from patients with segmental zoster (shingles, n = 14), facial nerve zoster (n = 16), VZV meningitis/encephalitis (n = 15), enteroviral meningitis (n = 10), idiopathic Bell’s palsy (n = 11), and normal pressure hydrocephalus (n = 15). Results Concentrations of 88 metabolites passing quality assessment clearly separated the three VZV reactivation forms from each other and from the non-infected samples. Internal cross-validation identified four metabolites (SM C16:1, glycine, lysoPC a C26:1, PC ae C34:0) that were particularly associated with VZV meningoencephalitis. SM(OH) C14:1 accurately distinguished facial nerve zoster from Bell’s palsy. Random forest construction revealed even more accurate classifiers (signatures comprising 2–4 metabolites) for most comparisons. Some of the most accurate biomarkers correlated only weakly with CSF leukocyte count, indicating that they do not merely reflect recruitment of inflammatory cells but, rather, specific pathophysiological mechanisms. Across all samples, only the sum of hexoses and the amino acids arginine, serine, and tryptophan correlated negatively with leukocyte count. Increased expression of the metabolites associated with VZV meningoencephalitis could be linked to processes relating to neuroinflammation/immune activation, neuronal signaling, and cell stress, turnover, and death (e.g., autophagy and apoptosis), suggesting that these metabolites might sense processes relating to end-organ damage. Conclusions The results provide proof-of-concept for the value of CSF metabolites as (1) disease-associated signatures suggesting pathophysiological mechanisms, (2) degree and nature of neuroinflammation, and (3) biomarkers for diagnosis and risk stratification of VZV reactivation and, likely, neuroinfections due to other pathogens. Trial registration Not applicable (non-interventional study).