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J Virol. 2013 Sep;87(17):9523-37. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00861-13. Epub 2013 Jun 19.

Immune activation and regulation in simian immunodeficiency virus-Plasmodium fragile-coinfected rhesus macaques.

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California National Primate Research Center, University of California at Davis, Davis, California, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Virol. 2014 Nov;88(22):13516.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is characterized by immune activation, while chronic malaria is associated with elevated interleukin-10 (IL-10) levels. How these apparently antagonizing forces interact in the coinfected host is poorly understood. Using a rhesus macaque model of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-Plasmodium fragile coinfection, we evaluated how innate immune effector cells affect the balance between immune activation and regulation. In vitro Toll-like receptor (TLR) responses of peripheral blood myeloid dendritic cells (mDC) and monocytes were temporarily associated with acute parasitemic episodes and elevated plasma IL-10 levels. Prolonged infection resulted in a decline of mDC function. Monocytes maintained TLR responsiveness but, in addition to IL-12 and tumor necrosis factor alpha, also produced IL-10. Consistent with the role of spleen in the clearance of parasite-infected red blood cells, coinfected animals also had increased splenic IL-10 mRNA levels. The main cellular source of IL-10 in the spleens of coinfected animals, however, was not splenic macrophages but T cells, suggesting an impairment of adaptive immunity. In contrast to those in spleen, IL-10-positive cells in axillary lymph nodes of coinfected animals were predominantly mDC, reminiscent of the immunosuppressive phenotype of peripheral blood mDC. Concurrent with IL-10 induction, however, SIV infection promoted elevated systemic IL-12 levels. The continuously increasing ratio of plasma IL-12 to IL-10 suggested that the overall host response in SIV-P. fragile-coinfected animals was shifted toward immune activation versus immune regulation. Therefore, SIV-P. fragile coinfection might be characterized by earlier manifestation of immune dysfunction and exhaustion than that of single-pathogen infections. This could translate into increased morbidity in HIV-malaria-coinfected individuals.

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