Competitive suppression of dengue virus replication occurs in chikungunya and dengue co-infected Mexican infants

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Background: Co-circulation of dengue virus (DENV) and chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is increasing worldwide but information on the viral dynamics and immune response to DENV-CHIKV co-infection, particularly in young infants, is scant. Methods: Blood samples were collected from 24 patients, aged 2 months to 82 years, during a CHIKV outbreak in Mexico. DENV and CHIKV were identified by RT-PCR; ELISA was used to detect IgM and IgG antibodies. CHIKV PCR products were cloned, sequenced and subjected to BLAST analysis. To address serological findings, HMEC-1 and Vero cells were inoculated with DENV-1, DENV-2 and CHIKV alone and in combination (DENV-2-CHIKV and DENV-1-CHIKV); viral titers were measured at 24, 48 and 72 h. Results: Nine patients (38%) presented co-infection, of who eight were children. None of the patients presented severe illness. Sequence analysis showed that the circulating CHIKV virus belonged to the Asian lineage. Seroconversion to both viruses was only observed in the four patients five years or older, while the five infants under two years of age only seroconverted to CHIKV. Viral titers in the CHIKV mono-infected cells were greater than in the DENV-1 and DENV-2 mono-infected cells. Furthermore, we observed significantly increased CHIKV progeny and reduction of DENV progeny in the co-infected cells. Conclusions: In our population, DENV-CHIKV co-infection was not associated with increased clinical severity. Our in vitro assay findings strongly suggest that the lack of DENV IgG conversion in the co-infected infants is due to suppression of DENV replication by the Asian lineage CHIKV. The presence of maternal antibody and immature immune responses in the young infants may also play a role.




Zaidi, M. B., Garcia-Cordero, J., Rivero-Gomez, R., Corzo-Gomez, J., González Y Almeida, M. E., Bonilla-Moreno, R., … Cedillo-Barron, L. (2018). Competitive suppression of dengue virus replication occurs in chikungunya and dengue co-infected Mexican infants. Parasites and Vectors, 11(1).

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