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Natural killer cells (NK cells) are the front line of immune cells to combat pathogens and able to influence the subsequent adaptive immune responses. One of the factors contributing to pathogenesis in dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) disease is aberrant immune activation during early phase of infection. This study explored the profile of NK cells in dengue infected pediatric patients with different degrees of disease severity. DHF patients contained higher frequency of activated NK cells but lower ratio of CD56dim:CD56bright NK subsets. Activated NK cells exhibited alterations in several NK receptors. Interestingly, the frequencies of NKp30 expressing activated NK cells were more pronounced in dengue fever (DF) than in DHF pediatric patients. In vitro functional analysis indicated that degranulation of NK cells in responding to dengue infected dendritic cells (DCs) required cell-cell contact and type I IFNs. Meanwhile, Interferon gamma (IFN-γ) production initially required cell-cell contact and type I IFNs followed by Interleukin-12 (IL-12), Interleukin-15 (IL-15) and Interleukin-18 (IL-18) resulting in the amplification of IFN-γ producing NK cells over time. This study highlighted the complexity and the factors influencing NK cells responses to dengue virus. Degree of activation, phenotypes of activated cells and the crosstalk between NK cells and other immune cells, could modulate the outcome of NK cells function in the dengue disease.

Original publication




Journal article


Virus research

Publication Date





Department of Immunology, Graduate Program in Immunology, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok 10700, Thailand; Department of Research and Development, Division of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever Research, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok-Noi, Bangkok 10700, Thailand.