Background: Neopterin (NP) is a biomarker for activated cellular immunity and is elevated in diseases including viral and bacterial infections, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. However, the clinical assessment of neopterin has not been used for these disorders because the physiological significance of measuring NP is obscure. It would be important to compare the NP profiles with those of other inflammation markers especially in relatively early phase of patients to reveal the significance of NP measurements in pathological states. Methods: Plasma NP, biopterin, CRP, and IL-6 levels were measured in 46 patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and 23 patients with non-COVID-19 disorders. The correlations between these markers were analyzed in the COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients independently. Results: The NP levels were significantly higher in the COVID-19 patients than in the non-COVID-19 patients, while biopterin, CRP and IL-6 were not changed significantly. The NP levels were found to show a weak negative correlation against the days after onset in the COVID-19 patients (rs = –0.348, p = 0.0192), suggesting that the elevation of NP would be an early event of viral infection. Correlations between NP and CRP, or between NP and IL-6 in COVID-19 patients were weaker than that between CRP and IL-6. Conclusions: The elevation of NP levels was supposed to be distinct from those of CRP and IL-6 in relatively early and mild COVID-19 patients. Our data suggest that NP is produced at the early phase of infection by different signaling pathways and/or cells from those of CRP and IL-6. Further study on the signaling pathway to induce NP is expected.
Available online 4 May 2022, e09371