Dengue virus (DENV) infection can cause mild dengue fever or severe dengue hemorrhage fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS). Serum levels of the macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) have been shown to be correlated with severity and mortality in DENV patients, but the pathogenic roles of MIF in DHF/DSS are still unclear. Increase in vascular permeability is an important hallmark of DHF/DSS. In this study, we found that DENV infection of the human hepatoma cell line (Huh 7) induced MIF production. Conditioned medium collected from DENV-infected Huh 7 cells enhanced the permeability of the human endothelial cell line (HMEC-1) which was reduced in the presence of a MIF inhibitor, ISO-1 or medium from DENV-infected MIF knockdown Huh 7 cells. To further identify whether MIF can alter vascular permeability, we cloned and expressed both human and murine recombinant MIF (rMIF) and tested their effects on vascular permeability both in vitro and in vivo. Indirect immunofluorescent staining showed that the tight junction protein ZO-1 of HMEC-1 was disarrayed in the presence of rMIF and partially recovered when cells were treated with ISO-1 or PI3K/MEK-ERK/JNK signaling pathway inhibitors such as Ly294002, U0126, and SP600215. In addition, ZO-1 disarray induced by MIF was also recovered when CD74 or CXCR2/4 expression of HMEC-1 were inhibited. Last but not least, the vascular permeabilities of the peritoneal cavity and dorsal cutaneous capillary were also increased in mice treated with rMIF. Taken together; these results suggest that MIF induced by DENV infection may contribute to the increase of vascular permeability during DHF/DSS. Therapeutic intervention of MIF by its inhibitor or neutralizing antibodies may prevent DENV-induced lethality.
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