Integrated systems immunology approach identifies impaired effector T cell memory responses as a feature of progression to severe dengue fever

Lisa J. Ioannidis, Stephanie I. Studniberg, Emily M. Eriksson, Suhendro Suwarto, Dionisius Denis, Yang Liao, Wei Shi, Alexandra L. Garnham, R. Tedjo Sasmono, Diana S. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Typical symptoms of uncomplicated dengue fever (DF) include headache, muscle pains, rash, cough, and vomiting. A proportion of cases progress to severe dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), associated with increased vascular permeability, thrombocytopenia, and hemorrhages. Progression to severe dengue is difficult to diagnose at the onset of fever, which complicates patient triage, posing a socio-economic burden on health systems. Methods: To identify parameters associated with protection and susceptibility to DHF, we pursued a systems immunology approach integrating plasma chemokine profiling, high-dimensional mass cytometry and peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) transcriptomic analysis at the onset of fever in a prospective study conducted in Indonesia. Results: After a secondary infection, progression to uncomplicated dengue featured transcriptional profiles associated with increased cell proliferation and metabolism, and an expansion of ICOS+CD4+ and CD8+ effector memory T cells. These responses were virtually absent in cases progressing to severe DHF, that instead mounted an innate-like response, characterised by inflammatory transcriptional profiles, high circulating levels of inflammatory chemokines and with high frequencies of CD4low non-classical monocytes predicting increased odds of severe disease. Conclusions: Our results suggests that effector memory T cell activation might play an important role ameliorating severe disease symptoms during a secondary dengue infection, and in the absence of that response, a strong innate inflammatory response is required to control viral replication. Our research also identified discrete cell populations predicting increased odds of severe disease, with potential diagnostic value.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
JournalJournal of Biomedical Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Dengue fever
  • Dengue hemorrhagic fever
  • Effector memory T cells
  • Non-classical monocytes


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