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Infect Immun. 2010 Oct;78(10):4331-40. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00539-10. Epub 2010 Jul 26.

Gammadelta T cells but not NK cells are essential for cell-mediated immunity against Plasmodium chabaudi malaria.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Blood-stage Plasmodium chabaudi infections are suppressed by antibody-mediated immunity and/or cell-mediated immunity (CMI). To determine the contributions of NK cells and γδ T cells to protective immunity, C57BL/6 (wild-type [WT]) mice and B-cell-deficient (J(H(-/-))) mice were infected with P. chabaudi and depleted of NK cells or γδ T cells with monoclonal antibody. The time courses of parasitemia in NK-cell-depleted WT mice and J(H(-/-)) mice were similar to those of control mice, indicating that deficiencies in NK cells, NKT cells, or CD8(+) T cells had little effect on parasitemia. In contrast, high levels of noncuring parasitemia occurred in J(H(-/-)) mice depleted of γδ T cells. Depletion of γδ T cells during chronic parasitemia in B-cell-deficient J(H(-/-)) mice resulted in an immediate and marked exacerbation of parasitemia, suggesting that γδ T cells have a direct killing effect in vivo on blood-stage parasites. Cytokine analyses revealed that levels of interleukin-10, gamma interferon (IFN-γ), and macrophage chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) in the sera of γδ T-cell-depleted mice were significantly (P < 0.05) decreased compared to hamster immunoglobulin-injected controls, but these cytokine levels were similar in NK-cell-depleted mice and their controls. The time courses of parasitemia in CCR2(-/-) and J(H(-/-)) × CCR2(-/-) mice and in their controls were nearly identical, indicating that MCP-1 is not required for the control of parasitemia. Collectively, these data indicate that the suppression of acute P. chabaudi infection by CMI is γδ T cell dependent, is independent of NK cells, and may be attributed to the deficient IFN-γ response seen early in γδ T-cell-depleted mice.

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