Increased adaptive immune responses and proper feedback regulation protect against clinical dengue
Clinical symptoms of dengue virus (DENV) infection, the most prevalent arthropod-borne viral disease, range from classical mild dengue fever to severe, life-threatening dengue shock syndrome. However, most DENV infections cause few or no symptoms. Asymptomatic DENV-infected patients provide a unique opportunity to decipher the host immune responses leading to virus elimination without negative impact on an individual’s health. We used an integrated approach of transcriptional profiling and immunological analysis to compare a Cambodian population of strictly asymptomatic viremic individuals with clinical dengue patients. Whereas inflammatory pathways and innate immune response pathways were similar between asymptomatic individuals and clinical dengue patients, expression of proteins related to antigen presentation and subsequent T cell and B cell activation pathways was differentially regulated, independent of viral load and previous DENV infection history. Feedback mechanisms controlled the immune response in asymptomatic viremic individuals, as demonstrated by increased activation of T cell apoptosis–related pathways and FcγRIIB (Fcγ receptor IIB) signaling associated with decreased anti-DENV–specific antibody concentrations. Together, our data illustrate that symptom-free DENV infection in children is associated with increased activation of the adaptive immune compartment and proper control mechanisms, leading to elimination of viral infection without excessive immune activation, with implications for novel vaccine development strategies.