Prevalence of dengue retinopathy varies across epidemics, with the disease linked to circulation of dengue virus serotype 1 (DENV-1). The retinal pigment epithelium has been implicated in the pathology. We investigated infectivity, molecular response, and barrier function of epithelial cells inoculated with DENV strains from different outbreaks in Singapore. Monolayers of human retinal pigment epithelial cells (multiple primary cell isolates and the ARPE-19 cell line) were inoculated with six DENV strains, at multiplicity of infection of 10; uninfected and recombinant strain-infected controls were included where relevant. Infectivity and cell response were assessed primarily by RT-qPCR on total cellular RNA, and barrier function was evaluated as electrical resistance across monolayers. Higher viral RNA loads were measured in human retinal pigment epithelial cells infected with DENV-1 strains from the 2005 Singapore epidemic, when retinopathy was prevalent, versus DENV-1 strains from the 2007 Singapore epidemic, when retinopathy was not observed. Type I interferon (IFN) transcripts (IFN-β and multiple IFN-stimulated genes) were up-regulated, and impact on barrier function was more pronounced, for cells infected with DENV-1 strains from the 2005 versus the 2007 Singapore epidemics. Aside from serotype, strain of DENV may determine the potential to induce retinal pathology. Identification of molecular markers of disease-associated DENV strains may provide insights into the pathogenesis of dengue retinopathy.
- Dengue virus
- Retinal pigment epithelium