Antibody Responses in Humans Infected with Newly Emerging Strains of West Nile Virus in Europe

Stefan Chabierski, Gustavo R. Makert, Alexandra Kerzhner, Luisa Barzon, Petra Fiebig, Uwe G. Liebert, Anna Papa, Justin M. Richner, Matthias Niedrig, Michael S. Diamond, Giorgio Palù, Sebastian Ulbert

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15 Scopus citations


Infection with West Nile Virus (WNV) affects an increasing number of countries worldwide. Although most human infections result in no or mild flu-like symptoms, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system are at higher risk for developing severe neurological disease. Since its introduction into North America in 1999, WNV has spread across the continental United States and caused annual outbreaks with a total of 36,000 documented clinical cases and ∼1,500 deaths. In recent years, outbreaks of neuroinvasive disease also have been reported in Europe. The WNV strains isolated during these outbreaks differ from those in North America, as sequencing has revealed that distinct phylogenetic lineages of WNV concurrently circulate in Europe, which has potential implications for the development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostic tests. Here, we studied the human antibody response to European WNV strains responsible for outbreaks in Italy and Greece in 2010, caused by lineage 1 and 2 strains, respectively. The WNV structural proteins were expressed as a series of overlapping fragments fused to a carrier-protein, and binding of IgG in sera from infected persons was analyzed. The results demonstrate that, although the humoral immune response to WNV in humans is heterogeneous, several dominant peptides are recognized.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere66507
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 12 2013


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