Journal Article

Association of Early Interferon-γ Production with Immunity to Clinical Malaria: A Longitudinal Study among Papua New Guinean Children

Marthe C. D'Ombrain, Leanne J. Robinson, Danielle I. Stanisic, Jack Taraika, Nicholas Bernard, Pascal Michon, Ivo Mueller and Louis Schofield

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 47, issue 11, pages 1380-1387
Published in print December 2008 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online December 2008 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/592971
Association of Early Interferon-γ Production with Immunity to Clinical Malaria: A Longitudinal Study among Papua New Guinean Children

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Background. Elucidating the cellular and molecular basis of naturally acquired immunity to Plasmodium falciparum infection would assist in developing a rationally based malaria vaccine. Innate, intermediate, and adaptive immune mechanisms are all likely to contribute to immunity. Interferon-γ (IFN-γ) has been implicated in both protection against and the pathogenesis of malaria in humans. In addition, considerable heterogeneity exists among rapid IFN-γ responses to P. falciparum in malaria-naive donors. The question remains whether similar heterogeneity is observed in malaria-exposed individuals and whether high, medium, or low IFN-γ responsiveness is differentially associated with protective immunity or morbidity.

Methods. A 6-month longitudinal cohort study involving 206 school-aged Papua New Guinean children was performed. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells collected at baseline were exposed to live P. falciparum–infected erythrocytes. Early IFN-γ responses were measured, and IFN-γ–expressing cells were characterized by flow cytometry. IFN-γ responsiveness was then tested for associations with parasitological and clinical outcome variables.

Results. Malaria-specific heterogeneity in early IFN-γ responsiveness was observed among children. High-level early IFN-γ responses were associated with protection from high-density and clinical P. falciparum infections. Parasite-induced early IFN-γ was predominantly derived from γδ T cells (68% of which expressed the natural killer marker CD56) and αβ T cells, whereas natural killer cells and other cells made only minor contributions. The expression of CD56 in malaria-responsive, IFN-γ–expressing γδ T cells correlated with IFN-γ responsiveness.

Conclusions. High, early IFN-γ production by live parasite–stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells is a correlate of immunity to symptomatic malaria in Papua New Guinean children, and natural killer–like γδ T cells may contribute to protection.

Journal Article.  4996 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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