Elevated cerebrospinal fluid cytokine levels in tuberculous meningitis predict survival in response to dexamethasone
Whitworth L., Troll R., Pagán A., Roca F., Edelstein P., Troll M., Tobin D., Phu NH., Bang ND., Thwaites G., Thuong NTT., Sewell R., Ramakrishnan L.
ABSTRACT Adjunctive treatment with anti-inflammatory corticosteroids like dexamethasone increases survival in tuberculosis meningitis. Dexamethasone responsiveness associates with a C/T variant in Leukotriene A4 Hydrolase (LTA4H ), which regulates expression of the pro-inflammatory mediator leukotriene B4 (LTB4). TT homozygotes, with increased LTB4, have the highest survival when treated with dexamethasone and the lowest survival without. While the T allele is present in only a minority of the world’s population, corticosteroids confer modest survival benefit worldwide. Using Bayesian methods, we examined how pre-treatment levels of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pro-inflammatory cytokines affect survival in dexamethasone-treated tuberculous meningitis. LTA4H TT homozygosity was associated with global cytokine increases, including TNF. Association between higher cytokine levels and survival extended to non-TT patients, suggesting that other genetic variants may also induce dexamethasone-responsive pathological inflammation. These findings warrant studies that tailor dexamethasone therapy to pre-treatment CSF cytokine concentrations, while searching for additional genetic loci shaping the inflammatory milieu.