Detection of subgenomic mRNA from endemic human coronavirus OC43 and NL63 compared to viral genomic loads, single virus detection and clinical manifestations in children with respiratory tract infections
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Clinical Virology. 2022, 154 . 10.1016/j.jcv.2022.105247
Background The importance of endemic human coronavirus (HCoV) in children has been insufficiently elucidated upon. Our aims were to develop subgenomic (sg) mRNA tests for HCoV species OC43 and NL63, and to evaluate the relationships to HCoV genomic loads, single HCoV detections and clinical manifestations. Methods We have used an 11-yearlong cohort study of children admitted with respiratory tract infection (RTI) and hospital controls. Nasopharyngeal aspirates were analyzed for HCoV subtypes OC43 and NL63 with in-house diagnostic PCR. Positive samples were tested with newly developed real-time PCRs targeting sg mRNA coding for the nucleocapsid protein. Results OC43 sg mRNA was detected in 86% (105/122) of available OC43-positive samples in the RTI group, and in 63% (12/19) of control samples. NL63 sg mRNA was detected in 72% (71/98) and 71% (12/17) of available NL63-positive patient and control samples, respectively. In RTI samples, sg mRNA detection was strongly associated with a Ct value <32 in both diagnostic PCR tests (OC43: OR = 54, 95% CI [6.8–428]; NL63: OR = 42, 95% CI [9.0–198]) and single NL63 detections (OR = 6.9, 95% CI [1.5–32]). Comparing RTI and controls, only OC43 was associated with RTI when adjusted for age (aOR = 3.2, 95% CI [1.1–9.4]). Conclusion We found strong associations between OC43 and NL63 sg mRNA and high viral genomic loads. sg mRNA for OC43 was associated with RTI. The association between sg mRNA and clinical manifestations needs further evaluation.