Dengue Virus Infection of Human Retinal Müller Glial Cells

Genevieve F. Oliver, Liam M. Ashander, Abby C. Dawson, Yuefang Ma, Jillian M. Carr, Keryn A. Williams, Justine R. Smith

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Retinopathy is a recently recognized complication of dengue, affecting up to 10% of hospitalized patients. Research on the pathogenesis has focused largely on effects of dengue virus (DENV) at the blood–retinal barrier. Involvement of retinal Müller glial cells has received little attention, although this cell population contributes to the pathology of other intraocular infections. The goal of our work was to establish the susceptibility of Müller cells to infection with DENV and to identify characteristics of the cellular antiviral, inflammatory, and immunomodulatory responses to DENV infection in vitro. Primary human Müller cell isolates and the MIO-M1 human Müller cell line were infected with the laboratory-adapted Mon601 strain and DENV serotype 1 and 2 field isolates, and cell–DENV interactions were investigated by immunolabelling and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Müller cells were susceptible to DENV infection, but experiments involving primary cell isolates indicated inter-individual variation. Viral infection induced an inflammatory response (including tumour necrosis factor-α, interleukin [IL]-1β, and IL-6) and an immunomodulatory response (including programmed death-ligand [PD-L]1 and PD-L2). The type I interferon response was muted in the Müller cell line compared to primary cell isolates. The highest infectivity and cell responses were observed in the laboratory-adapted strain, and overall, infectivity and cell responses were stronger in DENV2 strains. This work demonstrates that Müller cells mount an antiviral and immune response to DENV infection, and that this response varies across cell isolates and DENV strain. The research provides a direction for future efforts to understand the role of human retinal Müller glial cells in dengue retinopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1410
Number of pages20
Issue number7
Early online date21 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • dengue virus
  • human
  • Müller cell
  • retina
  • retinopathy


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