The four serotypes of dengue virus (DENV1-4) are mosquito-borne flaviviruses that infect humans. Live attenuated tetravalent DENV vaccines are at different phases of clinical testing. DENV vaccine developers have relied on neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) as a correlate of protection. A leading tetravalent vaccine (Dengvaxia) stimulated NAbs to the 4 DENV serotypes, yet overall vaccine efficacy was low in children who were DENV seronegative at baseline before vaccination. We compared the properties of 1) NAbs induced by wild type DENV1 or 3 infections, which are strongly correlated with protection from repeat infections, and 2) NAbs induced by Dengvaxia in individuals who subsequently experienced DENV1 or DENV3 breakthrough infections. Wild type infections induced NAbs that recognized epitopes unique (type-specific) to each serotype, whereas the vaccine stimulated qualitatively different NAbs that recognized epitopes conserved (cross-reactive) between serotypes. Our results indicate that among children who were DENV seronegative at baseline, unbalanced replication of the DENV type 4 vaccine component in the tetravalent vaccine stimulates Abs capable of cross neutralizing DENV1 and 3 in vitro but not protect in vivo. In DENV seronegative individuals who are vaccinated, we propose that type specific NAbs are a better correlate of protection than total levels of NAbs.
Sandra Henein, Cameron Adams, Matthew Bonaparte, Janice M. Moser, Alina Munteanu, Ralph Baric, Aravinda M. Desilva