Innate and adaptive immune responses determine protection against disseminated infection by West Nile encephalitis virus

Viral Immunol. 2003;16(3):259-78. doi: 10.1089/088282403322396082.


WNV continues to spread throughout the Western Hemisphere as virus activity in insects and animals has been reported in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands. West Nile virus (WNV) infects the central nervous system and causes severe disease primarily in humans who are immunocompromised or elderly. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms by which the immune system limits dissemination of WNV infection. Recent experimental studies in animals suggest important roles for both the innate and the adaptive immune responses in controlling WNV infection. Interferons, antibody, complement components and CD8+ T cells coordinate protection against severe infection and disease. These findings are analyzed in the context of recent approaches to vaccine development and immunotherapy against WNV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / biosynthesis
  • Complement Activation
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunotherapy
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interferons / biosynthesis
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Models, Immunological
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Viral Vaccines / isolation & purification
  • West Nile Fever / immunology*
  • West Nile Fever / prevention & control*
  • West Nile Fever / therapy
  • West Nile virus / growth & development
  • West Nile virus / immunology*
  • West Nile virus / pathogenicity


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Viral Vaccines
  • Interferons