Studies were made on the identity of human and monkey mononuclear leukocytes permissive to antibody-enhanced dengue 2 virus (D2V) infection. In cultures of peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) inoculated immediately after separation, it was concluded that only mononuclear phagocytes support dengue infection. This is based upon observations that D2V-permissive cells were resistant to 1,200 rads, were both plastic adherent and nonadherent, were removed when passed through nylon wool columns in 10 percent fetal bovine serum or 100 percent autologous serum, and were destroyed by incubation with 100 μg/ml particulate silica. On direct immunofluorescence staining, perinuclear dengue antigen was visualized at 24 h, becoming maximal at 60 h. Antigen-containing cells had ample cytoplasm, ruffled cytoplasmic membrane, and 73 percent were actively phagocytic. As further evidence of the infection of mononuclear phagocytes, antibody-enhanced D2V replication was observed in bone marrow cultures from five of five rhesus monkeys, but not in cell cultures of spleen, thymus, or lymph nodes prepared from the same animals. It is hypothesized that dengue virus complexed with non-neutralizing antibody is internalized by immune phagocytosis in a mononuclear phagocyte with a defective virus-destroying mechanism. Dengue permissiveness may depend upon cellular immaturity since bone marrow leukocytes could be infected even when held for 4 days before infection while PBL held for this time decreased in permissiveness. In vitro antibody-dependent infection of mononuclear phagocytes should prove useful as a model for study of immunopathologic mechanisms in human dengue.

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