Association of dengue virus-specific polyfunctional T-cell responses with clinical disease severity in acute dengue infection.
Wijeratne DT., Fernando S., Gomes L., Jeewandara C., Jayarathna G., Perera Y., Wickramanayake S., Wijewickrama A., Ogg GS., Malavige GN.
INTRODUCTION: Although the role of dengue virus (DENV)-specific T cells in the pathogenesis of acute dengue infection is emerging, the functionality of virus-specific T cells associated with milder clinical disease has not been well studied. We sought to investigate how the functionality of DENV-NS3 and DENV-NS5 protein-specific T cells differ in patients with dengue fever (DF) and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). METHODS: Using intracellular cytokine assays, we assessed the production of interferon γ (IFNγ), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), macrophage inflammatory protein-1β (MIP-1β), and CD107a expression in adult patients with acute DF (n = 21) and DHF (n = 22). RESULTS: Quadruple cytokine-producing, polyfunctional DENV-NS3- and DENV-NS5-specific T cells were more frequent in those with DF when compared to those with DHF. While DENV-NS3- and DENV-NS5-specific T cells in patients with DF expressed IFNγ > TNF-α > MIP-β > CD107a, T cells of those with DHF predominantly expressed CD107a > MIP-1β > IFNγ > TNF-α. Overall production of IFNγ or TNF-α by DENV-NS3- and DENV-NS5-specific T cells was significantly higher in patients with DF. The majority of NS3-specific T cells in patients with DF (78.6%) and DHF (68.9%) were single-cytokine producers; 76.6% of DENV-NS5-specific T cells in those with DF and 77.1% of those with DHF, produced only a single cytokine. However, no significant association was found with polyfunctional T-cell responses and the degree of viraemia. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the functional phenotype of DENV-specific T cells are likely to associate with clinical disease severity.