Antibody-dependent enhancement of viral infection: molecular mechanisms and in vivo implications

Rev Med Virol. Nov-Dec 2003;13(6):387-98. doi: 10.1002/rmv.405.


Besides the common receptor/coreceptor-dependent mechanism of cellular attachment, some viruses rely on antiviral antibodies for their efficient entry into target cells. This mechanism, known as antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) of viral infection, depends on the cross-linking of complexes of virus-antibody or virus-activated complement components through interaction with cellular molecules such as Fc receptors or complement receptors, leading to enhanced infection of susceptible cells. Recent studies have suggested that additional mechanisms underlie ADE: involvement of complement component C1q and its receptor (Ebola virus), antibody-mediated modulation of the interaction between viral protein and its coreceptor (human immunodeficiency virus) and suppression of cellular antiviral genes by the replication of viruses entering cells via ADE (Ross River virus). Since ADE is exploited by a variety of viruses and has been associated with disease exacerbation, it may have broad relevance to the pathogenesis of viral infection and antiviral strategies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology*
  • Antibody-Dependent Enhancement / immunology*
  • Ebolavirus / immunology
  • HIV / immunology
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Complement / immunology
  • Receptors, Fc / immunology
  • Viral Vaccines / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Receptors, Complement
  • Receptors, Fc
  • Viral Vaccines