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J Virol. 2018 Jun 29;92(14). pii: e00633-18. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00633-18. Print 2018 Jul 15.

Dengue Virus Induces Increased Activity of the Complement Alternative Pathway in Infected Cells.

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Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and Eye & Vision Health, College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
Cell Screen SA, Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
Centre for Cancer Biology, University of South Australia and SA Pathology, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and Eye & Vision Health, College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


Severe dengue virus (DENV) infection is associated with overactivity of the complement alternative pathway (AP) in patient studies. Here, the molecular changes in components of the AP during DENV infection in vitro were investigated. mRNA for factor H (FH), a major negative regulator of the AP, was significantly increased in DENV-infected endothelial cells (EC) and macrophages, but, in contrast, production of extracellular FH protein was not. This discord was not seen for the AP activator factor B (FB), with DENV induction of both FB mRNA and protein, nor was it seen with Toll-like receptor 3 or 4 stimulation of EC and macrophages, which induces both FH and FB mRNA and protein. Surface-bound and intracellular FH protein was, however, induced by DENV, but only in DENV antigen-positive cells, while in two other DENV-susceptible immortalized cell lines (ARPE-19 and human retinal endothelial cells), FH protein was induced both intracellularly and extracellularly by DENV infection. Regardless of the cell type, there was an imbalance in AP components and an increase in markers of complement AP activity associated with DENV-infected cells, with lower FH relative to FB protein, an increased ability to promote AP-mediated lytic activity, and increased deposition of complement component C3b on the surface of DENV-infected cells. For EC in particular, these changes are predicted to result in higher complement activity in the local cellular microenvironment, with the potential to induce functional changes that may result in increased vascular permeability, a hallmark of dengue disease.IMPORTANCE Dengue virus (DENV) is a significant human viral pathogen with a global medical and economic impact. DENV may cause serious and life-threatening disease, with increased vascular permeability and plasma leakage. The pathogenic mechanisms underlying these features remain unclear; however, overactivity of the complement alternative pathway has been suggested to play a role. In this study, we investigate the molecular events that may be responsible for this observed alternative pathway overactivity and provide novel findings of changes in the complement system in response to DENV infection in primary cell types that are a major target for DENV infection (macrophages) and pathogenesis (endothelial cells) in vivo Our results suggest a new dimension of cellular events that may influence endothelial cell barrier function during DENV infection that could expand strategies for developing therapeutics to prevent or control DENV-mediated vascular disease.


complement; dengue virus; factor H

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