Immune Response to Dengue and Zika

Annu Rev Immunol. 2018 Apr 26:36:279-308. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-042617-053142. Epub 2018 Jan 18.


Flaviviruses such as dengue (DENV), yellow fever (YFV), West Nile (WNV), and Zika (ZIKV) are human pathogens of global significance. In particular, DENV causes the most prevalent mosquito-borne viral diseases in humans, and ZIKV emerged from obscurity into the spotlight in 2016 as the etiologic agent of congenital Zika syndrome. Owing to the recent emergence of ZIKV as a global pandemic threat, the roles of the immune system during ZIKV infections are as yet unclear. In contrast, decades of DENV research implicate a dual role for the immune system in protection against and pathogenesis of DENV infection. As DENV and ZIKV are closely related, knowledge based on DENV studies has been used to prioritize investigation of ZIKV immunity and pathogenesis, and to accelerate ZIKV diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccine design. This review discusses the following topics related to innate and adaptive immune responses to DENV and ZIKV: the interferon system as the key mechanism of host defense and viral target for immune evasion, antibody-mediated protection versus antibody-dependent enhancement, and T cell-mediated protection versus original T cell antigenic sin. Understanding the mechanisms that regulate the balance between immune-mediated protection and pathogenesis during DENV and ZIKV infections is critical toward development of safe and effective DENV and ZIKV therapeutics and vaccines.

Keywords: Zika; adaptive immunity; dengue; innate immunity; vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Dengue / immunology*
  • Dengue / metabolism
  • Dengue / prevention & control
  • Dengue / virology
  • Dengue Virus / physiology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Interferon Type I / metabolism
  • Viral Tropism
  • Viral Vaccines / immunology
  • Zika Virus / physiology*
  • Zika Virus Infection / immunology*
  • Zika Virus Infection / metabolism
  • Zika Virus Infection / prevention & control
  • Zika Virus Infection / virology


  • Interferon Type I
  • Viral Vaccines