Modeling dengue immune responses mediated by antibodies: A qualitative study
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Dengue fever is a viral mosquito-borne infection and a major international public health concern. With 2.5 billion people at risk of acquiring the infection around the world, disease severity is influenced by the immunological status of the individual, seronegative or seropositive, prior to natural infection. Caused by four antigenically related but distinct serotypes, DENV-1 to DENV-4, infection by one serotype confers life-long immunity to that serotype and a period of temporary cross-immunity (TCI) to other serotypes. The clinical response on exposure to a second serotype is complex with the so-called antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) process, a disease augmentation phenomenon when pre-existing antibodies to previous dengue infection do not neutralize but rather enhance the new infection, used to explain the etiology of severe disease. In this paper, we present a minimalistic mathematical model framework developed to describe qualitatively the dengue immunological response mediated by antibodies. Three models are analyzed and compared: (i) primary dengue infection, (ii) secondary dengue infection with the same (homologous) dengue virus and (iii) secondary dengue infection with a different (heterologous) dengue virus. We explore the features of viral replication, antibody production and infection clearance over time. The model is developed based on body cells and free virus interactions resulting in infected cells activating antibody production. Our mathematical results are qualitatively similar to the ones described in the empiric immunology literature, providing insights into the immunopathogenesis of severe disease. Results presented here are of use for future research directions to evaluate the impact of dengue vaccines.