For the first time, the scientists of Duke-NUS Medical School have exhibited the physical interaction between two types of immune cells that play a prominent role in fighting against the dengue virus in the initial stage.
This report was published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Dengue virus is one of the most widespread infection that is transmitted by mosquitos, especially in the tropical region. According to the reports, 390 million (39 crore) people suffer from this disease annually.
This infection can do some severe damage to health causing high fever and sometimes develop into a life-threatening disease. There is no specific cure available in the market, but a dose of vaccination is recommended for the people who have had dengue at least once in the lifetime.
In order to determine the interaction, comparative research has been done on an animal model with and without the presence of mast cells. According to the research the mast cells attracted several other types of immune cells to the infected area. One of these cells is called gamma delta (γδ) T cells.
The (γδ) T cells also came in contact with the mast cells, which has not been observed in viral infections. The γδ T cells bound to a receptor known as “Endothelial protein C receptor” which is present on the mast cells. Due to this process, T cells activate, multiplies and produces interferon gamma. This initiates their role in destroying cells infected with dengue.
Dr Ashley St. John, an author of the study, said, “These [immune synapse] structures of cells in the process of communication were very exciting and visually striking to us when we first made this observation, and provide a glimpse into the ways that cells must work together to fight infection.”
She added, “We need much better vaccinations for dengue and for related viral pathogens that are injected into the skin by mosquitoes”.
Professor Patrick Casey, Senior Vice Dean of Research, Duke-NUS Medical School, commented, “According to recent news, the number of dengue cases in Singapore since the start of 2019 have been at their highest in over two years. This timely study is all the more important as an example of how we develop insights from outstanding basic research that can one day lead to clinical innovations to protect against such diseases.”
Researchers so far have very little knowledge about how our immune system identify viruses like dengue in the skin. Only after deeper analysis scientists may be able to develop better vaccinations to fight against such viruses which are widely spread by mosquitoes.