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J Immunol. 2013 Apr 1;190(7):3363-72. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1103812. Epub 2013 Feb 25.

Malaria inhibits surface expression of complement receptor 1 in monocytes/macrophages, causing decreased immune complex internalization.

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Division of Medical Parasitology, Department of Microbiology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10010, USA.


Complement receptor 1 (CR1) expressed on the surface of phagocytic cells binds complement-bound immune complexes (IC), playing an important role in the clearance of circulating IC. This receptor is critical to prevent accumulation of IC, which can contribute to inflammatory pathology. Accumulation of circulating IC is frequently observed during malaria, although the factors contributing to this accumulation are not clearly understood. We have observed that the surface expression of CR1 on monocytes/macrophages and B cells is strongly reduced in mice infected with Plasmodium yoelii, a rodent malaria model. Monocytes/macrophages from these infected mice present a specific inhibition of complement-mediated internalization of IC caused by the decreased CR1 expression. Accordingly, mice show accumulation of circulating IC and deposition of IC in the kidneys that inversely correlate with the decrease in CR1 surface expression. Our results indicate that malaria induces a significant decrease on surface CR1 expression in the monocyte/macrophage population that results in deficient internalization of IC by monocytes/macrophages. To determine whether this phenomenon is found in human malaria patients, we have analyzed 92 patients infected with either P. falciparum (22 patients) or P. vivax (70 patients) , the most prevalent human malaria parasites. The levels of surface CR1 on peripheral monocytes/macrophages and B cells of these patients show a significant decrease compared with uninfected control individuals in the same area. We propose that this decrease in CR1 plays an essential role in impaired IC clearance during malaria.

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