Phenotyping of peripheral blood mononuclear cells during acute dengue illness demonstrates infection and increased activation of monocytes in severe cases compared to classic dengue fever.


In vitro studies have attempted to identify dengue virus (DEN) target cells in peripheral blood; however, extensive phenotyping of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from dengue patients has not been reported. PBMCs collected from hospitalized children suspected of acute dengue were analyzed for DEN prM, CD32, CD86, CD14, CD11c, CD16, CD209, CCR7, CD4, and CD8 by flow cytometry to detect DEN antigen in PBMCs and to phenotype DEN-positive cells. DEN prM was detected primarily in activated monocytes (CD14(+), CD32(+), CD86(+), CD11c(+)). A subset of samples analyzed for DEN nonstructural protein 3 (NS3) confirmed that approximately half of DEN antigen-positive cells contained replicating virus. A higher percentage of PBMCs from DHF patients expressed prM, CD86, CD32, and CD11c than did those from DF patients. Increased activation of monocytes and greater numbers of DEN-infected cells were associated with more severe dengue, implicating a role for monocyte activation in dengue immunopathogenesis.

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