Dengue virus (DENV) and Zika virus (ZIKV) are closely related mosquito-borne flaviviruses that co-circulate in tropical regions and constitute major threats to global human health. Whether preexisting immunity to one virus affects disease caused by the other during primary or secondary infections is unknown but is critical in preparing for future outbreaks and predicting vaccine safety. Using a human skin explant model, we show that DENV-3 immune sera increased recruitment and infection of Langerhans cells, macrophages, and dermal dendritic cells following inoculation with DENV-2 or ZIKV. Similarly, ZIKV immune sera enhanced infection with DENV-2. Immune sera increased migration of infected Langerhans cells to the dermis and emigration of infected cells out of skin. Heterotypic immune sera increased viral RNA in the dermis almost 10-fold and reduced the amount of virus required to infect a majority of myeloid cells by 100- to 1000-fold. Enhancement was associated with cross-reactive IgG and induction of IL-10 expression and was mediated by both CD32 and CD64 Fcγ receptors. These findings reveal that preexisting heterotypic immunity greatly enhances DENV and ZIKV infection, replication, and spread in human skin. This relevant tissue model will be valuable in assessing the efficacy and risk of dengue and Zika vaccines in humans.


Priscila M. S. Castanha, Geza Erdos, Simon C. Watkins, Louis D. Falo Jr., Ernesto T. A. Marques, Simon M. Barratt-Boyes


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