Interferon-γResponses Are Associated with Resistance to Reinfection withPlasmodium falciparumin Young African Children

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The contribution of T cell-mediated responses was studied with regard to resistance to reinfection in groups of Gabonese children participating in a prospective study of severe and mild malaria due to infection with Plasmodium falciparum. In those admitted with mild malaria, but not in those with severe malaria, production of IFN-γ by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in response to either liver-stage or merozoite antigen peptides was associated with significantly delayed first reinfections and with significantly lower rates of reinfection. Proliferative or tumor necrosis factor responses to the same peptides showed no such associations. Production of interferon-γ by PBMC in response to sporozoite and merozoite antigen peptides was observed in a higher proportion of those presenting with mild malaria. Differences in the Th1/Th2 cytokine balance may be linked to the ability to control parasite multiplication in these young children, helping to explain the marked differences observed in both susceptibility to infection as well as in clinical presentation.

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