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J Infect Dis. 1999 May;179(5):1218-25.

Immunity to placental malaria. I. Elevated production of interferon-gamma by placental blood mononuclear cells is associated with protection in an area with high transmission of malaria.

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Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.


In areas in which malaria is holoendemic, primigravidae and secundigravidae, compared with multigravidae, are highly susceptible to placental malaria (PM). The nature of gravidity-dependent immune protection against PM was investigated by measuring in vitro production of cytokines by placental intervillous blood mononuclear cells (IVBMC). The results demonstrated that interferon (IFN)-gamma may be a critical factor in protection against PM: production of this cytokine by PM-negative multigravid IVBMC was elevated compared with PM-negative primigravid and secundigravid and PM-positive multigravid cells. Low IFN-gamma responsiveness to malarial antigen stimulation, most evident in the latter group, was balanced by increased interleukin (IL)-4 production, suggesting that counter-regulation of these two cytokines may be a crucial determinant in susceptibility to PM. A counter-regulatory relationship between IL-10 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha was also observed in response to malarial antigen stimulation. These data suggest that elevated production of IFN-gamma, as part of a carefully regulated cytokine network, is important in the control of PM.

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