Immunoepidemiological Modeling of Dengue Viral Infection

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Virginia Tech

Dengue viral infection is a mosquito-borne disease with four distinct strains, where the interactions between these strains have implications on the severity of the disease outcomes. The two competing hypotheses for the increased severity during secondary infections are antibody dependent enhancement and original antigenic sin. Antibody dependent enhancement suggests that long-lived antibodies from primary infection remain during secondary infection but do not neutralize the virus. Original antigenic sin proposes that T cells specific to primary infection dominate cellular immune responses during secondary infections, but are inefficient at clearing cells infected with non-specific strains.

To analyze these hypotheses, we developed within-host mathematical models. In previous work, we predicted a decreased non-neutralizing antibody effect during secondary infection. Since this effect accounts for decreased viral clearance and the virus is in quasi-equilibrium with infected cells, we could be accounting for reduced cell killing and the original antigenic sin hypothesis.

To further understand these interactions, we develop a model of T cell responses to primary and secondary dengue virus infections that considers the effect of T cell cross-reactivity in disease enhancement. We fit the models to published patient data and show that the overall infected cell killing is similar in dengue heterologous infections, resulting in dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever. The contribution to overall killing, however, is dominated by non-specific T cell responses during the majority of secondary dengue hemorrhagic fever cases. By contrast, more than half of secondary dengue fever cases have predominant strain-specific T cell responses. These results support the hypothesis that cross-reactive T cell responses occur mainly during severe disease cases of heterologous dengue virus infections.

Finally, using the results from our within-host models, we develop a multiscale model of dengue viral infection which couples the within-host virus dynamics to the population level dynamics through a system of partial differential equations. We analytically determine the relationship between the model parameters and the characteristics of the solutions, and find thresholds under which infections persist in the population. Furthermore, we develop and implement a full numerical scheme for our model.

Mathematical Modeling, Dengue Viral Infection, Differential Equations