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J Immunol. 1988 Jul 1;141(1):241-8.

Immunoregulation in murine malaria. Susceptibility of inbred mice to infection with Plasmodium yoelii depends on the dynamic interplay of host and parasite genes.

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Department of Pathobiological Sciences, University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, Madison 53706.


Inbred and H-2 congenic mouse strains were tested for their ability to resist infections with the non-lethal 17X or with the lethal YM isolates of Plasmodium yoelii. DBA/2 and B10.D2 mice, which best resisted infections with non-lethal P. yoelii, were exquisitely susceptible to infection with lethal isolates of this malaria species. In contrast, B6 and B10 mice, which were susceptible to infection with non-lethal P. yoelii, were resistant to infection with the lethal isolates. This reversal of host response phenotype was influenced by H-2 genes, as evidenced by the divergent responses of the H-2 congenic strains B10 and B10.D2. However, a survey of mouse strains sharing common H-2 genes, but expressing different genetic backgrounds, demonstrated that genes outside the H-2 complex also influence the outcome of P. yoelii infections. By enumerating the numbers of P. yoelii-specific antibody-secreting cells in the spleens of infected mice, it was demonstrated that B6 mice, although susceptible to infection with non-lethal P. yoelii, nonetheless made a far stronger anti-parasite response after infection than did resistant DBA/2 mice. Using FACS analysis it was shown that infected B6 mice also produced large amounts of antibodies which bound to the surface of uninfected RBC. Thus, in B6 mice infected with non-lethal P. yoelii, a strong parasite-induced immune response was associated with susceptibility rather than resistance to infection. When T cell-deficient nude mice and their normal littermates were infected with the different isolates of P. yoelii, the nude mice had lower levels of parasitemia and higher RBC counts during the early stages of these infections, and lived longer than did normal littermates after infection with the lethal isolate. These data and the data from studies of B6 and DBA/2 mice support the idea that a strong immune response may be associated with susceptibility rather than resistance to P. yoelii, at least during the early stages of the infection. The finding that a single strain of mouse may present as resistant to infection with one P. yoelii isolate yet be exquisitely susceptible to infection with another suggests that the outcome of these murine malaria infections is dependent on a dynamic interplay between host and parasite genes. Thus, when genetic variability exists in both the host and the parasite populations, as would occur in nature, there may be little directed evolutionary change toward one phenotype or another.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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