Our aim was to evaluate the expression of Toll-like receptor-4 (TLR-4) and the level of interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) in young infants infected by Bordetella pertussis and B. parapertussis.
Twenty-two infants under the age of 3.5 months with the clinical suspicion of pertussis were enrolled in the study. Nasopharyngeal secretions were obtained for laboratory testing, and blood samples were obtained for flow cytometry and cytokine level analysis.
Six infants had positive PCR results for pertussis; the other 16 infants had infections attributable to another causal agent and were used as the control group. The mean fluorescence index, used as a measure of TLR-4 expression by monocytes, was significantly lower in infants withpertussis than in the control group infants (34.32 ± 18.58 vs. 63.14 ± 28, respectively; p = 0.041). The serum IFN-γ level was also significantly lower in infants with pertussis than in the control group patients (0.41 ± 0.58 vs. 1.36 ± 1.87, respectively; p = 0.04). No differences were found in the levels of IL-10.
Based on these results, we suggest that TL4 expression by monocytes and serum INF-γ levels are lower in infants with positive PCR results for pertussis than in infants with a non-pertussis upper respiratory tract infection.