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J Infect Dis. 2007 Mar 15;195(6):905-12. Epub 2007 Feb 1.

Characterization of a Plasmodium falciparum macrophage-migration inhibitory factor homologue.

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Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, OX3 7LJ, UK.



Macrophage-migration inhibitory factor (MIF), one of the first cytokines described, has a broad range of proinflammatory properties. The genome sequencing project of Plasmodium falciparum identified a parasite homologue of MIF. The protein is expressed during the asexual blood stages of the parasite life cycle that cause malarial disease. The identification of a parasite homologue of MIF raised the question of whether it affects monocyte function in a manner similar to its human counterpart.


Recombinant P. falciparum MIF (PfMIF) was generated and used in vitro to assess its influence on monocyte function. Antibodies generated against PfMIF were used to determine the expression profile and localization of the protein in blood-stage parasites. Antibody responses to PfMIF were determined in Kenyan children with acute malaria and in control subjects.


PfMIF protein was expressed in asexual blood-stage parasites, localized to the Maurer's cleft. In vitro treatment of monocytes with PfMIF inhibited random migration and reduced the surface expression of Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2, TLR4, and CD86.


These results indicate that PfMIF is released during blood-stage malaria and potentially modulates the function of monocytes during acute P. falciparum infection.

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