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J Infect Dis. 2005 Feb 1;191(3):410-21. Epub 2004 Dec 21.

Malaria-filaria coinfection in mice makes malarial disease more severe unless filarial infection achieves patency.

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  • 1Institutes of Evolution, Immunology and Infection Research, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland. andrea.graham@ed.ac.uk

Abstract

Coinfections are common in natural populations, and the literature suggests that helminth coinfection readily affects how the immune system manages malaria. For example, type 1-dependent control of malaria parasitemia might be impaired by the type 2 milieu of preexisting helminth infection. Alternatively, immunomodulatory effects of helminths might affect the likelihood of malarial immunopathology. Using rodent models of lymphatic filariasis (Litomosoides sigmodontis) and noncerebral malaria (clone AS Plasmodium chabaudi chabaudi), we quantified disease severity, parasitemia, and polyclonal splenic immune responses in BALB/c mice. We found that coinfected mice, particularly those that did not have microfilaremia (Mf(-)), had more severe anemia and loss of body mass than did mice with malaria alone. Even when controlling for parasitemia, malaria was most severe in Mf(-) coinfected mice, and this was associated with increased interferon- gamma responsiveness. Thus, in Mf(-) mice, filariasis upset a delicate immunological balance in malaria infection and exacerbated malaria-induced immunopathology.

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