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

Sheila Cabezas, Gustavo Bracho, Amanda L. Aloia, Penelope J. Adamson, Claudine S. Bonder, Justine R. Smith, David L. Gordon, Jillian M. Carr

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23 Citations (Scopus)


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 DENVinfected 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00633-18
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • complement
  • dengue virus
  • factor H


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