Peptide biomarkers for the diagnosis of dengue infection

Francesca Falconi-Agapito, Karen Kerkhof, Xiomara Merino, Diana Bakokimi, Fiorella Torres, Marjan Van Esbroeck, Michael Talledo, Kevin K Ariën

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In a world with an increasing population at risk of exposure to arthropod-borne flaviviruses, access to timely and accurate diagnostic tests would impact profoundly on the management of cases. Twenty peptides previously identified using a flavivirus proteome-wide microarray were evaluated to determine their discriminatory potential to detect dengue virus (DENV) infection. This included nine peptides recognized by IgM antibodies (PM peptides) and 11 peptides recognized by IgG antibodies (PG peptides). A bead-based multiplex peptide immunoassay (MPIA) using the Luminex technology was set-up to determine Ab binding levels to each of these peptides in a panel of 323 carefully selected human serum samples. Sera are derived from individuals either infected with different viruses, namely, the four DENV serotypes, Zika virus (ZIKV), yellow fever virus (YFV), chikungunya virus (CHIKV), West Nile virus (WNV) and Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or receiving vaccination against YFV, tick-borne encephalitis (TBEV), and Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV). Additionally, a set of healthy controls were included. We targeted a minimum specificity of 80% for all the analysis. The PG-9 peptide had the best sensitivity (73%) when testing DENV sera from acute patients (A-DENV; <8 days since symptom onset). With sera from convalescent DENV patients (C-DENV; >10 days since symptom onset) the FPG-1 peptide was the best seromarker with a sensitivity of 86%. When combining all A-DENV and C-DENV samples, peptides PM-22 and FPG-1 had the best-diagnostic performance with a sensitivity of 60 and 61.1%, and areas under the curve (AUC) of 0.7865 and 0.8131, respectively. A Random forest (RF) algorithm was used to select the best combination of peptides to classify DENV infection at a targeted specificity >80%. The best RF model for PM peptides that included A-DENV and C-DENV samples, reached a sensitivity of 72.3%, while for PG peptides, the best RF models for A-DENV only, C-DENV only and A-DENV + C-DENV reached a sensitivity of 88.9%, 89.1%, and 88.3%, respectively. In conclusion, the combination of multiple peptides constitutes a founding set of seromarkers for the discrimination of DENV infected individuals from other flavivirus infections.

Original languageEnglish
Article number793882
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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