Dengue is an acute febrile illness caused by dengue virus (DENV) and a major cause of morbidity and mortality in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. The lack of an appropriate small-animal model of dengue infection has greatly hindered the study of dengue pathogenesis and the development of therapeutics. In this study, we conducted mass spectrometry-based serum metabolic profiling from a model using humanized mice (humice) with DENV serotype 2 infection at 0, 3, 7, 14, and 28 days postinfection (dpi). Forty-eight differential metabolites were identified, including fatty acids, purines and pyrimidines, acylcarnitines, acylglycines, phospholipids, sphingolipids, amino acids and derivatives, free fatty acids, and bile acid. These metabolites showed a reversible-change trend—most were significantly perturbed at 3 or 7 dpi and returned to control levels at 14 or 28 dpi, indicating that the metabolites might serve as prognostic markers of the disease in humice. The major perturbed metabolic pathways included purine and pyrimidine metabolism, fatty acid β-oxidation, phospholipid catabolism, arachidonic acid and linoleic acid metabolism, sphingolipid metabolism, tryptophan metabolism, phenylalanine metabolism, lysine biosynthesis and degradation, and bile acid biosynthesis. Most of these disturbed pathways are similar to our previous metabolomics findings in a longitudinal cohort of adult human dengue patients across different infection stages. Our analyses revealed the commonalities of host responses to DENV infection between humice and humans and suggested that humice could be a useful small-animal model for the study of dengue pathogenesis and the development of dengue therapeutics.
IMPORTANCE Dengue virus is the most widespread arbovirus, causing an estimated 390 million dengue infections worldwide every year. There is currently no effective treatment for the disease, and the lack of an appropriate small-animal model of dengue infection has greatly increased the challenges in the study of dengue pathogenesis and the development of therapeutics. Metabolomics provides global views of small-molecule metabolites and is a useful tool for finding metabolic pathways related to disease processes. Here, we conducted a serum metabolomics study on a model using humanized mice with dengue infection that had significant levels of human platelets, monocytes/macrophages, and hepatocytes. Forty-eight differential metabolites were identified, and the underlying perturbed metabolic pathways are quite similar to the pathways found to be altered in dengue patients in previous metabolomics studies, indicating that humanized mice could be a highly relevant small-animal model for the study of dengue pathogenesis and the development of dengue therapeutics.