Background: Brainstem encephalitis (BE) and pulmonary edema (PE) are notable complications of enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection. Objective: This study investigated the immunoregulatory characterizations of EV71 neurological complications by disease severity and milrinone treatment. Study Design: Patients <18 years with virologically confirmed EV71 infections were enrolled and divided into 2 groups: the hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) or BE group, and the autonomic nervous system (ANS) dysregulation or PE group. Cytokine and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels, and the regulatory T cell (Tregs) profiles of the patients were determined. Results: Patients with ANS dysregulation or PE exhibited significantly low frequency of CD4 +CD25+Foxp3+ and CD4+Foxp3 + T cells compared with patients with HFMD or BE. The expression frequency of CD4-CD8- was also significantly decreased in patients with ANS dysregulation or PE. Among patients with ANS dysregulation or PE, the expression frequency of CD4+Foxp3+ increased markedly after milrinone treatment, and was associated with reduction of plasma levels IL-6, IL-8 and IL-10. Plasma concentrations of cAMP were significantly decreased in patients with ANS dysregulation or PE compared with patients with HFMD or BE; however, cAMP levels increased after milrinone treatment. Conclusions: These findings suggested decreased different regulatory T populations and cAMP expression correlate with increased EV71 disease severity. Improved outcome after milrinone treatment may associate with increased regulatory T populations, cAMP expression and modulation of cytokines levels.
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