APR 09, 2017 5:13 PM PDT

Dengue or West Nile May Protect You Or Put You At Risk for Zika Virus

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Zika, dengue, and West Nile viruses are all related - literally. They are all part of the flavivirus family, and similar viral protein structures shared by all three may explain why some populations in South America were hit so hard by the Zika virus outbreak in 2015.

Credit: Travel + Leisure

Dengue and West Nile viruses are endemic in the same places as Zika, including Puerto Rico and other United States territories. Visible trends show people with a history of dengue, West Nile, or both viral infections at an increased risk for Zika virus infection.

For the first time, in a study published in Science, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai completed a large-scale analysis of the effect of preexisting antibodies from dengue or West Nile viruses on Zika virus infection.

First, researchers collected blood samples from people infected with either dengue or West Nile virus. In cell cultures, antibodies from the plasma in these blood samples enhanced Zika virus growth.

Next, they injected the same plasma into mice genetically altered to be particularly susceptible to Zika virus infection. Researchers saw increased mortality, morbidity, and Zika viral loads in the mice. However, this effect was only visible when low concentrations of dengue or West Nile virus antibodies were administered; high concentrations of the same antibodies actually had a protective effect against Zika infection for the mice.

Researchers from Mount Sinai believe that this dose-dependent connection is responsible for recent Zika outbreaks. Co-author Jean Lim, PhD says that this study “highlights the need for great caution when designing vaccines for Zika and other flaviviruses.” The present study is just the beginning to fully understanding the relationship between pre-existing flavivirus immunity and effective vaccine development.

Currently, Zika virus is endemic to multiple U.S. territories, meaning the virus is regularly found in these areas. However, active transmission has also occurred in U.S. states Florida and Texas. Combined with Zika’s tendency to persist for long periods of time in the body tissues, the virus’s association with microcephaly and other neurological disorders, a connection that is yet to be completely understood, puts Zika virus at a high priority for scientists developing vaccines and other preventative and therapeutic drugs.

Sources: The Mount Sinai Hospital, CDC

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
MAR 23, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAR 23, 2020
Top 5 Candidates for Coronavirus Vaccine Around the World
It’s easy to complain about the role of big pharma in medicine-making and the hassle of dealing with protective pa ...
APR 06, 2020
Immunology
APR 06, 2020
Clearing the Path for Dendritic Cells to Eliminate Tumors
  Dendritic cells are the sentinels of the immune system and use their “tree-like” projections to prese ...
APR 09, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
APR 09, 2020
4 Natural Antihistamines with No Side Effects
Over-the-counter antihistamine treatments are known to be effective for relieving allergic symptoms. However, they are a ...
APR 22, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
APR 22, 2020
Only 3% of COVID-19 Antibody Tests Approved by FDA
So far, only 3% of at least 90 COVID-19 antibody tests in the US have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration ...
APR 23, 2020
Immunology
APR 23, 2020
COVID "Immunity Passports" Are a No-Go
  Authorities are caught between dealing with the competing urgencies of abating the COVID-19 health crisis and the ...
MAY 03, 2020
Microbiology
MAY 03, 2020
Understanding How Lyme Disease Persists in the Body
Lyme disease is a confounding illness that can be difficult to diagnose, and can cause a wide range of serious health pr ...
Loading Comments...