Why Asians Are More Susceptible To Severe Dengue

Genetics makes Asians susceptible to dengue shock syndrome, according to a study by an international team of scientists.

AsianScientist (Feb. 21, 2018) – An international team of researchers has discovered that Asians are particularly susceptible to dengue shock syndrome. They published their findings in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Dengue fever is endemic to tropical and subtropical regions of East Asia and the Americas, but the dengue viruses have recently spread to North America and Europe. Dengue can lead to a wide spectrum of illness, ranging from classic dengue fever (DF) to dengue shock syndrome (DSS). As globalization and climate change spread tropical diseases around the globe, not all populations are equally susceptible to infection.

Ethnic diversity has long been considered as one of the factors explaining why the severe forms of dengue are more prevalent in Southeast Asia than elsewhere. Gene variants common in people of Asian and European ancestry, for instance, make them more prone than those of African origin to developing severe dengue shock syndrome, according to a study led by Dr. Luisa Pereira of the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health-University of Porto (i3S), Portugal, and Dr. Anavaj Sakuntabhai of the Institut Pasteur-Paris, France.

The researchers studied the genetics of 411 patients admitted with dengue virus infection to three hospitals in Thailand between 2000 and 2003. 290 healthy individuals admitted to the same hospitals during the same time period were used as controls.

The researchers identified two genes related to blood vessel inflammation that elevate the risk of DSS in Asians, and four genes related to drug metabolism that raise the risk of DF in Asian populations. Moreover, the prevalence of the genetic variations varied based on ancestry.

“The particular genetic risk conferred by these genes indicates that Southeast and Northeast Asians are highly susceptible to both phenotypes [DSS and DF], while Africans are best protected against DSS. Europeans are best protected against DF but are most susceptible to DSS,” the researchers said.

The article can be found at: Oliveira et al. (2018) Joint Ancestry and Association Test Indicate Two Distinct Pathogenic Pathways Involved in Classical Dengue Fever and Dengue Shock Syndrome.


Source: PLOS; Photo: Luisa Pereira.
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