Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
LOPEZ ANTUNANO, Francisco J. and MOTA, Javier. Development of immunizing agents against dengue. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2000, vol.7, n.5, pp. 285-292. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892000000500001.
The four serotypes of dengue flaviviruses are transmitted mainly by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and some epidemics have been attributed to Ae. albopictus, Ae. polynesiensis, and various species of the Ae. scutellaris complex. The risk factors involved in dengue mortality and morbidity are related to the human host (genetic characteristics of infected persons; lifestyles, immune status, and health conditions of people; basic sanitation of dwellings; and water supply) and to the virus (genetic variability between and among serotypes, different pathogenicities, and geographic distribution). Notwithstanding the lack of knowledge of the immunopathobiology of dengue fever, important advances have been made in terms of a protective immune response, using attenuated dengue viruses or antigens produced by means of recombinant technologies. Efforts have been made since the 1940s to develop dengue vaccines. Immunity acquired from natural infection is specific for each serotype, and as many as three different serotype infections have been reported in one individual. For this reason, a tetravalent vaccine may likely be needed. Candidate vaccines against the four serotypes have been tested in volunteers and have proven to be immunogenic and safe. Although attenuated live virus vaccines are promising, more study is needed regarding their effectiveness and safety. Currently, several studies are ongoing to develop dengue vaccines using antigens from structural proteins (particularly E glycoprotein) and nonstructural proteins, with recombinant DNA technology and other biomolecular technologies. With the same goal, various expression vectors are being used, including Escherichia coli, baculovirus, vaccinia virus, and yellow fever virus. Unfortunately, no satisfactory results have been obtained in humans. The need for effective dengue vaccines is great, given the serious worldwide problem of the transmission of the four serotypes. Effective immunization against dengue would contribute to its prevention, with a positive cost-benefit relationship. Endemic dengue affects young children, and they should be immunized through the Expanded Program on Immunization.