Early diagnosis of infections in young infants remains a clinical challenge. Young infants are particularly vulnerable to infection, and it is often difficult to clinically distinguish between bacterial and viral infections. Urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most common bacterial infection in young infants, and the incidence of associated bacteremia has decreased in the recent decades. Host RNA expression signatures have shown great promise for distinguishing bacterial from viral infections in young infants. This prospective study included 121 young infants admitted to four pediatric emergency care departments in the capital region of Denmark due to symptoms of infection. We collected whole blood samples and performed differential gene expression analysis. Further, we tested the classification performance of a two-gene host RNA expression signature approaching clinical implementation. Several genes were differentially expressed between young infants with UTI without bacteremia and viral infection. However, limited immunological response was detected in UTI without bacteremia compared to a more pronounced response in viral infection. The performance of the two-gene signature was limited, especially in cases of UTI without bloodstream involvement. Our results indicate a need for further investigation and consideration of UTI in young infants before implementing host RNA expression signatures in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4857
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)4857
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2024


  • Humans
  • Urinary Tract Infections/genetics
  • Infant
  • Prospective Studies
  • Female
  • Male
  • Transcriptome
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Gene Expression Profiling/methods
  • Bacteremia/genetics
  • RNA/genetics
  • Virus Diseases/genetics


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