Bacteria and viruses induce production of interferon in the cerebrospinal fluid of children with acute meningitis: A study of 57 cases and review

T. Chonmaitree, S. Baron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


The CSF of 57 infants and children with bacterial or enterovirus meningitis was analyzed for the presence of interferon (IFN). CSF was collected when the diagnosis of meningitis was made; a bacterium or enterovirus was isolated in all cases. IFN was detectable in CSF in 24% of cases of bacterial meningitis and in 75% of cases of viral meningitis. Titers of IFN were generally lower in cases of bacterial meningitis. Neither the presence of IFN nor the level of IFN titers correlated with the patient's age or number of white blood cells or mononuclear cells in the CSF. Coxsackievirus induced production of IFN more consistently and in higher titers than did echovirus. None of 35 control patients had detectable IFN in CSF. A literature review and our data indicate that the presence of IFN in CSF suggests infection of the CNS but does not differentiate bacterial from viral infection. The finding of IFN in the CSF of children with bacterial meningitis supports evidence that bacteria and other nonviral microorganisms induce IFN production. The protective role of IFN in nonviral infections deserves further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1061-1065
Number of pages5
JournalReviews of Infectious Diseases
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991

Cite this