Despite evidence that γδ T cells play an important role during malaria, their precise role remains unclear. During murine malaria induced by Plasmodium chabaudi infection and in human P. falciparum infection, we found that γδ T cells expanded rapidly after resolution of acute parasitemia, in contrast to αβ T cells that expanded at the acute stage and then declined. Single-cell sequencing showed that TRAV15N-1 (Vδ6.3) γδ T cells were clonally expanded in mice and had convergent complementarity-determining region 3 sequences. These γδ T cells expressed specific cytokines, M-CSF, CCL5, CCL3, which are known to act on myeloid cells, indicating that this γδ T cell subset might have distinct functions. Both γδ T cells and M-CSF were necessary for preventing parasitemic recurrence. These findings point to an M-CSF-producing γδ T cell subset that fulfills a specialized protective role in the later stage of malaria infection when αβ T cells have declined.
γδ T cell frequency increases late during mouse and human malaria. Mamedov et al. show that oligoclonal TRAV15N-1 (Vδ6.3) γδ T cells expand across various tissues and prevent late-stage parasitemic recurrence. These protective γδ T cells exhibit a distinct transcriptional profile that includes abundantly expressed M-CSF, which protects against Plasmodium recurrence.