JOURNAL OF GENERAL VIROLOGY, vol.98, no.12, pp.2993-3007, 2017 (SCI-Expanded)
Plasma leakage is the main pathophysiological feature in severe dengue, resulting from altered vascular barrier function associated with an inappropriate immune response triggered upon infection. The present study investigated functional changes using an electric cell-substrate impedance sensing system in four (brain, dermal, pulmonary and retinal) human microvascular endothelial cell (MEC) lines infected with purified dengue virus, followed by assessment of cytokine profiles and the expression of inter-endothelial junctional proteins. Modelling of changes in electrical impedance suggests that vascular leakage in dengue-infected MECs is mostly due to the modulation of cell-to-cell interactions, while this loss of vascular barrier function observed in the infected MECs varied between cell lines and DENV serotypes. High levels of inflammatory cytokines (IL-6 and TNF-alpha), chemokines (CXCL1, CXCL5, CXCL11, CX3CL1, CCL2 and CCL20) and adhesion molecules (VCAM-1) were differentially produced in the four infected MECs. Further, the tight junctional protein, ZO-1, was down-regulated in both the DENV-1-infected brain and pulmonary MECs, while claudin-1, PECAM-1 and VE-cadherin were differentially expressed in these two MECs after infection. Non-purified virus stock was also studied to investigate the impact of virus stock purity on dengue-specific immune responses, and the results suggest that virus stock propagated through cell culture may include factors that mask or alter the DENV-specific immune responses of the MECs. The findings of the present study show that high DENV load differentially modulates human microvascular endothelial barrier function and disrupts the function of inter-endothelial junctional proteins during early infection with organ-specific cytokine production.