Certain cells found to target dengue fever

Duke University researchers recently found that cells playing a role in triggering an immune response to bacteria and pathogens may also target dengue fever, a tropical disease with no known vaccine.

A team from the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore studied mast cells in mice, which control allergic and inflammatory responses in the human body. They found that this type of cell can also respond to the mosquito-borne dengue fever, according to

“It appears the mast cells are activated and call immune system cells to the skin where they clear infection, which limits the spread of infection in the host,” lead researcher Ashley St. John said, according to

St. John is a research fellow at Duke-NUS in the Program of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Duke Department of Pathology in Durham, North Carolina.

Duke scientists discovered that mice lacking in mast cells had more of the virus in their lymph nodes and increased infection after injection with measured amounts of dengue fever than those mice with normal levels of mast cells.

Mast cells are known to produce chemokines, a protein that stimulates immune system cells that target the dengue fever virus.

Mast cells are also known to be involved in airway restriction during asthma attacks. The researchers believe that the findings could also lead to new medicines being developed that target viral infections of the lung, airways and sinuses.