BACKGROUND: Hantaan virus is a major zoonotic pathogen that causesing hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS). Although HFRS pathogenesis has not been entirely elucidated, the importance of host-related immune responses in HFRS pathogenesis has been widely recognized. CD163, a monocyte and macrophage-specific scavenger receptor that plays a vital function in the hosts can reduce inflammation, is shed during activation as soluble CD163 (sCD163). The aim of this study was to investigate the pathological significance of sCD163 in patients with HFRS. METHODS: Blood samples were collected from 81 hospitalized patients in Tangdu Hospital from October 2011 to January 2014 and from 15 healthy controls. The sCD163 plasma levels were measured using a sandwich ELISA, and the relationship between sCD163 and disease severity was analyzed. Furthermore, CD163 expression in 3 monocytes subset was analyzed by flow cytometry. RESULTS: The results demonstrated that sCD163 plasma levels during the HFRS acute phase were significantly higher in patients than during the convalescent stage and the levels in the healthy controls (P<0.0001). The sCD163 plasma levels in the severe/critical group were higher than those in the mild/moderate group during the acute (P<0.0001). A Spearman correlation analysis indicated that the sCD163 levels were positively correlated with white blood cell, serum creatine, blood urea nitrogen levels, while they were negatively correlated with blood platelet levels in the HFRS patients. The monocyte subsets were significantly altered during the acute stage. Though the CD163 expression levels within the monocyte subsets were increased during the acute stage, the highest CD163 expression level was observed in the CD14++CD16+ monocytes when compared with the other monocyte subsets. CONCLUSION: sCD163 may be correlated with disease severity and the disease progression in HFRS patients; however, the underlying mechanisms should be explored further.