Cross-reactive anti-flaviviral immunity can influence the outcome of infections with heterologous flaviviruses. However, it is unclear how the interplay between cross-reactive antibodies and T cells tilts the balance toward pathogenesis versus protection during secondary Zika virus (ZIKV) and Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) infections. We show that sera and IgG from JEV-vaccinated humans and JEV-inoculated mice cross-reacted with ZIKV, exacerbated lethal ZIKV infection upon transfer to mice, and promoted viral replication and mortality upon ZIKV infection of the neonates born to immune mothers. In contrast, transfer of CD8+ T cells from JEV-exposed mice was protective, reducing the viral burden and mortality of ZIKV-infected mice and abrogating the lethal effects of antibody-mediated enhancement of ZIKV infection in mice. Conversely, cross-reactive anti-ZIKV antibodies or CD8+ T cells displayed the same pathogenic or protective effects upon JEV infection, with the exception that maternally acquired anti-ZIKV antibodies had no effect on JEV infection of the neonates. These results provide clues for developing safe anti-JEV/ZIKV vaccines.
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