Infection with dengue viruses (DENV) leads to a spectrum of disease outcomes. The pathophysiology of severe versus non-severe manifestations of DENV infection may be driven by host responses, which could be reflected in the transcriptional profiles of peripheral blood immune cells.
We conducted genome-wide microarray analysis of whole blood RNA from 34 DENV-infected children in Nicaragua collected on days 3–6 of illness, with different disease manifestations. Gene expression analysis identified genes that are differentially regulated between clinical subgroups. The most striking transcriptional differences were observed between dengue patients with and without shock, especially in the expression of mitochondrial ribosomal proteins associated with protein biosynthesis. In the dengue hemorrhagic fever patients, one subset of differentially expressed genes encode neutrophil-derived anti-microbial peptides associated with innate immunity. By performing a meta-analysis of our dataset in conjunction with previously published datasets, we confirmed that DENV infection in vivo is associated with large changes to protein and nucleic acid metabolism. Additionally, whereas in vitro infection leads to an increased interferon signature, this was not consistently observed from in vivo patient samples, suggesting that the interferon response in vivo is relatively transient and was no longer observed by days 3–6 of illness.
These data highlight important differences between different manifestations of severity during DENV infection as well as identify some commonalities. Compilation of larger datasets in the future across multiple studies, as we have initiated in this report, may well lead to better prediction of disease manifestation via a systems biology approach.
Dengue is a widespread viral disease for which over 3 billion people are at risk. There are no drug treatments or vaccines available for this disease. It is also difficult for physicians to predict which patients are at highest risk for the severe manifestations known as dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS). We used genome-wide transcriptional profiling analysis to study peripheral blood responses to dengue among patients from Nicaragua. We found that patients with severe manifestations involving shock had very different transcriptional profiles from dengue patients with mild and moderate illness. We then compared our results with other microarray experiments on dengue patients available from public databases and confirmed that dengue is often associated with large changes to the metabolic processes within cells. This approach could identify prognostic markers for severe dengue as well as provide a better understanding of the pathophysiology associated with different grades of disease severity.