Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Rachel Arakawa Rose Hills

Characterizing dIgA Association to Dengue Infection Outcome Severity

The four dengue virus serotypes (DENV1-4) and Zika virus (ZIKV) are among the most prevalent mosquito-borne flaviviruses worldwide. These viruses pose major public health challenges across various regions of the globe, with DENV infecting up to 390 million individuals yearly and resulting in an estimated 96 million cases worldwide. Clinical manifestations range from asymptomatic infections to dengue fever (DF) and severe outcomes such as dengue hemorrhagic fever/dengue shock syndrome (DHF/DSS), which can be fatal if untreated. Interestingly, we have found that a first ZIKV infection increases the risk of DHF/DSS upon subsequent DENV2 infection, and high avidity IgA antibodies are the main predictor of risk. Given that dimeric IgA antibodies (dIgA) correspond to a fraction of high-avidity IgA antibodies in serum, my research aims to establish a tool to identify and characterize dIgA in a unique set of samples from the pediatric dengue cohort study in Nicaragua and evaluate their association with DHF/DSS. In this way, my research will provide critical insights to advance our understanding of the immunopathogenesis of DHF/DSS in the post-Zika era.

Message To Sponsor

Thank you for your generous support of my summer research project. Your contribution enables me to pursue my passion in immunological research, and I am extremely grateful for your investment in my education. I am eager to delve into my project and contribute to the investigation of a potential new mechanism of disease in the flavivirus field.
Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
Mentor: Eva Harris
Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
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