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Eur J Immunol. 1998 Aug;28(8):2559-70.

Expansion of IL-3-responsive IL-4-producing non-B non-T cells correlates with anemia and IL-3 production in mice infected with blood-stage Plasmodium chabaudi malaria.

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Department of Immunology, Stockholm University, Sweden.


A prominent switch of CD4+ T cells from Th1 to Th2 type response occurs in mice infected with the non-lethal malaria parasite Plasmodium chabaudi chabaudi AS around the time of peak parasitemia. This is reflected by a decrease in IFN-gamma- and an increase in IL-4-producing cells. The peak occurs approximately 9-10 days after infection and is accompanied by anemia. The mechanism behind the switch in Th cell response is poorly understood. We here report on the production of IL-4 from a non-T cell source during P. chabaudi infection in BALB/c mice. Flow cytometric analysis of spleen and peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) showed a dramatic increase in the percentage of non-B non-T (NBNT) cells 9-23 days after P. chabaudi infection with peak values by day 15 (approximately 30 % of splenocytes and approximately 55 % of PBL being NBNT cells). The expansion of NBNT cells correlated closely with the appearance of a cell type secreting IL-4 and IL-6 following stimulation with IL-3 and/or cross-linking of FcgammaR. Compared to cells from uninfected animals, NBNT cells from P. chabaudi-infected mice were shown to be hyper-responsive to IL-3. The levels of the hematopoietic cytokine IL-3 were elevated in supernatants from unstimulated spleen cell cultures as well as in serum at the same time points at which NBNT cell-derived IL-4 and IL-6 were detected from spleen cultures and PBL. Thus, IL-3-responsive IL-4-producing NBNT cells may provide cytokines supporting the switch from Th1 to a Th2 response which is important for the final clearance of the parasite in P. chabaudi malaria.

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