Dengue viruses (DENV) cause an important and re-emerging viral disease, resulting in an estimated 100 million infections globally each year. Substantial evidence indicates that the pathogenesis of severe dengue disease involves a complex interaction between viral replication and host immune responses. Pre-existing DENV antibodies are a major risk factor to develop severe DENV disease. An improved understanding of the relationship between antibody titers in the sera and the ability of memory B cells to reactivate following a secondary heterologous DENV infection would be invaluable to guide the development of an effective dengue vaccine. These efforts have been significantly inhibited by the lack of a reliable small animal model that recapitulates the interactions between virus infection and host immunity that cause severe disease in humans. The overall objective of this project is to evaluate novel and existing strains of humanized mice including Bone marrow/Liver/Thymus NOD-scid IL2r?null mice (BLT- NSG) as a reliable small animal model for the study of dengue virus infection, immunity, and pathogenesis. For this proposal we will examine antibody and B cell responses to controlled primary and secondary DENV infections in BLT-NSG mice. We will address the objectives through the following specific aims. 1. Investigate the specificity and functionality of DENV-specific antibody responses generated during primary and secondary viral infections in BLT-NSG mice. 2. Characterize B cell subsets in blood and tissue resident cells that respond to primary and secondary DENV infections in BLT-NSG mice.
The lack of a suitable animal model to study dengue virus infection, immunity and pathogenesis has been a significant deterrent to understanding human dengue virus disease. The studies that we have proposed could identify a reliable humanized scid mouse model that can be used to examine human B cell responses and immunological mechanisms of human dengue disease.