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J Infect Dis. 2006 Jan 1;193(1):146-54. Epub 2005 Nov 30.

Reduced cord blood immune effector-cell responsiveness mediated by CD4+ cells induced in utero as a consequence of placental Plasmodium falciparum infection.

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Department of Parasitology, Institute for Tropical Medicine, University of Tubingen, Germany.


To determine mechanisms of neonatal parasite antigen (Ag)-specific immune suppression associated with placental Plasmodium falciparum infection, we isolated cord blood mononuclear cells (CBMCs) from Gabonese neonates born to mothers with differing histories of P. falciparum infection and performed ex vivo and in vitro studies to evaluate immune regulatory activity. We found increased ex vivo percentages of CD4(+)CD25(hi) and CD4(+)CD25(+)CTLA-4(+) cells and increased interleukin (IL)-10 responses to parasite Ag in vitro in CBMCs from neonates born to mothers with placental P. falciparum infection at delivery. Depleting CBMCs of CD4(+)CD25(+) cells before cell culture led to the abrogation of parasite Ag-specific IL-10 responses, to enhanced interferon- gamma responses, and to enhanced expression of CD25 on CD8(+) T cells and of major histocompatibility complex class I and II on monocytes. These data demonstrate that parasite Ag-specific CD4(+) regulatory cells are generated in utero as a consequence of placental P. falciparum infection.

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