According to the study, the researchers have come one step closer to understanding; that how the immune system responding to the acute dengue fever; a disease that has affected hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast Asia this summer alone. But the research study showing that so-called natural killer cells were especially active shortly after an infection.
But the study discovery could hopefully contribute to the development of new vaccines; and improve care of patients with acute infections. Dengue virus is common in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world and is transmitted via mosquitoes to humans in whom the infection can cause severe hemorrhagic fever.
Acute dengue fever
As in the summer of 2019, several countries in Southeast Asia have suffering severe outbreaks; of the disease. Sweden annually reports 150-200 cases of dengue fever, typically in tourists returning from endemic countries such as Thailand. Currently, effective vaccines and methods to treat dengue fever are lacking. To increase our understanding of the course of the disease and thereby find new treatment options, researchers have studied which immune cells are activated by the infection and how these migrate to the part of the body that has been infected.
The study followed 32 patients with acute dengue fever in Singapore. Their blood and skin sample analyses showing; that a type of immune cell called natural killer (NK) cells were especially activating in the blood shortly after the infection. But this activation had completely disappearing after about two months. The cells were activating by cytokines; small molecules that spreading in the bloodstream and are producing by other cells in the immune system.
Immune system functions
The natural killer cells had surface receptors, indicating they can leave the blood and migrate to the infected area of the skin. But the findings provide important new knowledge about how people’s immune system functions in acute viral infections. In the future, researchers hope this knowledge may be using for vaccine development as well as to improve care; diagnostics and treatment of patients with acute infections.
But by studying immune cells and soluble molecules; directly present in the skin of acutely infected patients we could gain; but unique insight into the very first steps of the immune response. But Dengue fever is a painful, debilitating mosquito-borne disease caused by any one of four closely related dengue viruses. An estimated 400 million dengue infections occur worldwide each year, with about 96 million resulting in illness.