Size and charge characteristics of the protein leak in dengue shock syndrome

J Infect Dis. 2004 Aug 15;190(4):810-8. doi: 10.1086/422754. Epub 2004 Jul 19.


Background: he mechanism underlying the transient vascular leak syndrome of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is unknown. We aimed to determine whether molecular size and charge selectivity, which help restrict plasma proteins within the intravascular space, are altered in patients with DHF and whether a disturbance of the anionic glycosaminoglycan (GAG) layer on the luminal endothelial surface contributes to disease pathogenesis.

Methods: We measured serial plasma levels and fractional clearances of proteins with different size and charge characteristics in 48 children with dengue shock syndrome (DSS) and urinary excretion profiles of heparan sulfate, chondroitin-4-sulfate, and chondroitin-6-sulfate in affected children and healthy control subjects.

Results: Compared with convalescent values, acute plasma concentrations of all proteins were reduced, with increased fractional clearances. Smaller proteins were more affected than larger molecules. Albumin, which is normally protected from leakage by its strong negative charge, demonstrated a clearance pattern similar to that of transferrin, a neutral molecule of similar size. Urinary heparan sulfate excretion was significantly increased in children with DSS.

Conclusions: The endothelial size-dependent sieving mechanism for plasma proteins is at least partially retained, whereas selective restriction based on negative charge is impaired. The increased heparan sulfate excretion suggests a role for GAGs in the pathogenesis of the vascular leak.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chondroitin Sulfates / blood
  • Chondroitin Sulfates / urine
  • Dengue Virus*
  • Female
  • Heparitin Sulfate / urine
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Male
  • Serum Albumin / analysis
  • Severe Dengue / blood
  • Severe Dengue / metabolism*
  • Severe Dengue / urine
  • Time Factors
  • Transferrin / analysis


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Serum Albumin
  • Transferrin
  • Chondroitin Sulfates
  • Heparitin Sulfate