Lethal antibody enhancement of dengue disease in mice is prevented by Fc modification

Scott J. Balsitis, Katherine L. Williams, Ruben Lachica, Diana Flores, Jennifer L. Kyle, Erin Mehlhop, Syd Johnson, Michael S. Diamond, P. Robert Beatty, Eva Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

327 Scopus citations


Immunity to one of the four dengue virus (DV) serotypes can increase disease severity in humans upon subsequent infection with another DV serotype. Serotype cross-reactive antibodies facilitate DV infection of myeloid cells in vitro by promoting virus entry via Fcγ receptors (FcγR), a process known as antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). However, despite decades of investigation, no in vivo model for antibody enhancement of dengue disease severity has been described. Analogous to human infants who receive anti-DV antibodies by transplacental transfer and develop severe dengue disease during primary infection, we show here that passive administration of anti-DV antibodies is sufficient to enhance DV infection and disease in mice using both mouse-adapted and clinical DV isolates. Antibody-enhanced lethal disease featured many of the hallmarks of severe dengue disease in humans, including thrombocytopenia, vascular leakage, elevated serum cytokine levels, and increased systemic viral burden in serum and tissue phagocytes. Passive transfer of a high dose of serotype-specific antibodies eliminated viremia, but lower doses of these antibodies or cross-reactive polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies all enhanced disease in vivo even when antibody levels were neutralizing in vitro. In contrast, a genetically engineered antibody variant (E60-N297Q) that cannot bind FcγR exhibited prophylactic and therapeutic efficacy against ADE-induced lethal challenge. These observations provide insight into the pathogenesis of antibody-enhanced dengue disease and identify a novel strategy for the design of therapeutic antibodies against dengue.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1000790
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


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