Dengue virus has long presented scientists with a puzzle: an individual
who is infected with one of the four subtypes of the virus often has a more
severe illness—dengue hemorrhagic fever—the second time around.
Now, scientists from England and Thailand, whose findings were published June
15 in the online edition of Nature Medicine (http://www.nature.com/nm/), believe they have discovered why this occurs.
Studying dengue virus-specific responses in Thai children, the researchers
found that the immune cells of volunteers with dengue fever mobilized primarily
against previously encountered strains, but had weak affinity for the strain
causing the current attack. Not only were the immune cells ineffectual against
the new dengue virus strain, possibly causing a delay in clearing the virus,
but activation and death of immune cells could exacerbate the illness.
Stephenson J. Fortifying Food for the Poor. JAMA. 2003;290(2):184. doi:10.1001/jama.290.2.184-a
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