Long-term homologous and temporary heterologous protection from dengue virus (DENV) infection may be mediated by neutralizing antibodies. However, neutralizing antibody titers (NTs) have not been clearly associated with protection from infection.
Data from two geographic cluster studies conducted in Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand were used for this analysis. In the first study (2004–2007), cluster investigations of 100-meter radius were triggered by DENV-infected index cases from a concurrent prospective cohort. Subjects between 6 months and 15 years old were evaluated for DENV infection at days 0 and 15 by DENV PCR and IgM ELISA. In the second study (2009–2012), clusters of 200-meter radius were triggered by DENV-infected index cases admitted to the provincial hospital. Subjects of any age ≥6 months were evaluated for DENV infection at days 0 and 14. In both studies, subjects who were DENV PCR positive at day 14/15 were considered to have been “susceptible” on day 0. Comparison subjects from houses in which someone had documented DENV infection, but the subject remained DENV negative at days 0 and 14/15, were considered “non-susceptible.” Day 0 samples were presumed to be from just before virus exposure, and underwent plaque reduction neutralization testing (PRNT). Seventeen “susceptible” (six DENV-1, five DENV-2, and six DENV-4), and 32 “non-susceptible” (13 exposed to DENV-1, 10 DENV-2, and 9 DENV-4) subjects were evaluated. Comparing subjects exposed to the same serotype, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves identified homotypic PRNT titers of 11, 323 and 16 for DENV-1, -2 and -4, respectively, to differentiate “susceptible” from “non-susceptible” subjects.
PRNT titers were associated with protection from infection by DENV-1, -2 and -4. Protective NTs appeared to be serotype-dependent and may be higher for DENV-2 than other serotypes. These findings are relevant for both dengue epidemiology studies and vaccine development efforts.
Dengue is caused by four different dengue virus serotypes (DENV-1, -2, -3, -4). Infection induces long-term protection against the same serotype, but only short-term protection, and possible enhancement, from different serotypes. DENV neutralizing antibody titers (NTs) are thought to mediate protection or modify disease. Association of NTs with protection from infection has not, however, been clearly demonstrated. We analyzed data from two geographic clusters studies conducted in Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand, in which DENV NTs just before virus exposure were compared between DENV-infected “susceptible” and non-infected “non-susceptible” subjects. NTs appeared to be associated with protection against DENV-1, -2, and -4, but at different NT cutoff levels, with the cutoff for DENV-2 appearing to be the highest. These findings are relevant for ongoing efforts to investigate dengue epidemiology and develop dengue vaccine candidates.