Human Zika infection induces a reduction of IFN-γ producing CD4 T-cells and a parallel expansion of effector Vδ2 T-cells

Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 24;7(1):6313. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-06536-x.


The definition of the immunological response to Zika (ZIKV) infection in humans represents a key issue to identify protective profile useful for vaccine development and for pathogenesis studies. No data are available on the cellular immune response in the acute phase of human ZIKV infection, and its role in the protection and/or pathogenesis needs to be clarified. We studied and compared the phenotype and functionality of T-cells in patients with acute ZIKV and Dengue viral (DENV) infections. A significant activation of T-cells was observed during both ZIKV and DENV infections. ZIKV infection was characterized by a CD4 T cell differentiation toward effector cells and by a lower frequency of IFN-γ producing CD4 T cells. Moreover, a substantial expansion of CD3+CD4-CD8- T-cell subset expressing Vδ2 TCR was specifically observed in ZIKV patients. Vδ2 T cells presented a terminally differentiated profile, expressed granzyme B and maintained their ability to produce IFN-γ. These findings provide new knowledge on the immune response profile during self-limited infection that may help in vaccine efficacy definition, and in identifying possible immuno-pathogenetic mechanisms of severe infection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Dengue Virus / immunology
  • Female
  • Granzymes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • Young Adult
  • Zika Virus / immunology*
  • Zika Virus Infection / immunology*


  • IFNG protein, human
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Granzymes