Immunologic timeline of Ebola virus disease and recovery in humans

JCI Insight. 2020 May 21;5(10):e137260. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.137260.


A complete understanding of human immune responses to Ebola virus infection is limited by the availability of specimens and the requirement for biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) containment. In an effort to bridge this gap, we evaluated cryopreserved PBMCs from 4 patients who survived Ebola virus disease (EVD) using an established mass cytometry antibody panel to characterize various cell populations during both the acute and convalescent phases. Acute loss of nonclassical monocytes and myeloid DCs, especially CD1c+ DCs, was noted. Classical monocyte proliferation and CD38 upregulation on plasmacytoid DCs coincided with declining viral load. Unsupervised analysis of cell abundance demonstrated acute declines in monocytic, NK, and T cell populations, but some populations, many of myeloid origin, increased in abundance during the acute phase, suggesting emergency hematopoiesis. Despite cell losses during the acute phase, upregulation of Ki-67 correlated with recovery of cell populations over time. These data provide insights into the human immune response during EVD.

Keywords: Dendritic cells; Immunology; Innate immunity; Monocytes; Virology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Convalescence*
  • Ebolavirus / immunology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / immunology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / pathology
  • Humans
  • Ki-67 Antigen / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / pathology
  • Viral Load


  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • MKI67 protein, human