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J Immunol. 2011 Apr 15;186(8):4725-33. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1003778. Epub 2011 Mar 16.

Filarial infection suppresses malaria-specific multifunctional Th1 and Th17 responses in malaria and filarial coinfections.

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Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The mechanisms underlying the modulation of both the malaria-specific immune response and the course of clinical malaria in the context of concomitant helminth infection are poorly understood. We used multiparameter flow cytometry to characterize the quality and the magnitude of malaria-specific T cell responses in filaria-infected and -uninfected individuals with concomitant asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Mali. In comparison with filarial-uninfected subjects, filarial infection was associated with higher ex vivo frequencies of CD4(+) cells producing IL-4, IL-10, and IL-17A (p = 0.01, p = 0.001, and p = 0.03, respectively). In response to malaria Ag stimulation, however, filarial infection was associated with lower frequencies of CD4(+) T cells producing IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-17A (p < 0.001, p = 0.04, and p = 0.04, respectively) and with higher frequencies of CD4(+)IL10(+)T cells (p = 0.0005). Importantly, filarial infection was associated with markedly lower frequencies of malaria Ag-specific Th1 (p < 0.0001), Th17 (p = 0.012), and "TNF-α" (p = 0.0008) cells, and a complete absence of malaria-specific multifunctional Th1 cells. Filarial infection was also associated with a marked increase in the frequency of malaria-specific adaptive regulatory T/Tr1 cells (p = 0.024), and the addition of neutralizing anti-IL-10 Ab augmented the amount of Th1-associated cytokine produced per cell. Thus, among malaria-infected individuals, concomitant filarial infection diminishes dramatically the frequencies of malaria-specific Th1 and Th17 T cells, and alters the quality and magnitude of malaria-specific T cell responses.

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