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Infect Immun. 2007 May;75(5):2275-82. Epub 2007 Feb 26.

CD4+ CD25+ regulatory T cells suppress CD4+ T-cell function and inhibit the development of Plasmodium berghei-specific TH1 responses involved in cerebral malaria pathogenesis.

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The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, 1G Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria 3050, Australia.


The infection of mice with Plasmodium berghei ANKA constitutes the best available mouse model for human Plasmodium falciparum-mediated cerebral malaria, a devastating neurological syndrome that kills nearly 2.5 million people every year. Experimental data suggest that cerebral disease results from the sequestration of parasitized erythrocytes within brain blood vessels, which is exacerbated by host proinflammatory responses mediated by cytokines and effector cells including T lymphocytes. Here, T cell responses to P. berghei ANKA were analyzed in cerebral malaria-resistant and -susceptible mouse strains. CD4+ T-cell proliferation and interleukin-2 (IL-2) production in response to parasite-specific and polyclonal stimuli were strongly inhibited in cerebral malaria-resistant mice. In vitro and in vivo depletion of CD4+ CD25+ regulatory T (T(reg)) cells significantly reversed the inhibition of CD4+ T-cell proliferation and IL-2 production, indicating that this cell population contributes to the suppression of T-cell function during malaria. Moreover, in vivo depletion of T(reg) cells prevented the development of parasite-specific TH1 cells involved in the induction of cerebral malaria during a secondary parasitic challenge, demonstrating a regulatory role for this cell population in the control of pathogenic responses leading to fatal disease.

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