The authors wanted to develop a simple diagnostic test to determine whether viral infection is a cause of respiratory symptoms. They performed RNA sequencing on human nasal epithelial cells after stimulating the intracellular viral recognition receptor RIG-I. Following this they evaluated whether measuring the identified host mRNAs and proteins from patient nasopharyngeal swabs could predict the presence of a respiratory virus in the sample. They identified a signature of three mRNAs; CXCL10, IFIT2 and OASL; predicted respiratory virus detection with an accuracy of 97% and identified proteins correlating with virus detection. They also found that elevated CXCL11 or CXCL10 protein levels identified samples containing respiratory viruses, including viruses that were not on the initial test panel. The overall area under the curve (AUC) values were: CXCL11 0.901 and CXCL10 0.85. Therefore host antiviral mRNAs and single host proteins are detectable using nasopharyngeal swabs and can accurately predict the presence of viral infection.
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