Liver accumulation of Plasmodium chabaudi-infected red blood cells and modulation of regulatory T cell and dendritic cell responses

Márcia M. Medeiros, Henrique B. Da Silva, Aramys S. Reis, Renato Barboza, Joanne Thompson, Maria Regina D.Império Lima, Cláudio R.F. Marinho, Carlos E. Tadokoro

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17 Scopus citations


It is postulated that accumulation of malaria-infected Red Blood Cells (iRBCs) in the liver could be a parasitic escape mechanism against full destruction by the host immune system. Therefore, we evaluated the in vivo mechanism of this accumulation and its potential immunological consequences. A massive liver accumulation of P. c. chabaudi AS-iRBCs (PciRBCs) was observed by intravital microscopy along with an over expression of ICAM-1 on day 7 of the infection, as measured by qRT-PCR. Phenotypic changes were also observed in regulatory T cells (Tregs) and dendritic cells (DCs) that were isolated from infected livers, which indicate a functional role for Tregs in the regulation of the liver inflammatory immune response. In fact, the suppressive function of liver-Tregs was in vitro tested, which demonstrated the capacity of these cells to suppress naive T cell activation to the same extent as that observed for spleen-Tregs. On the other hand, it is already known that CD4+ T cells isolated from spleens of protozoan parasite-infected mice are refractory to proliferate in vivo. In our experiments, we observed a similar lack of in vitro proliferative capacity in liver CD4+ T cells that were isolated on day 7 of infection. It is also known that nitric oxide and IL-10 are partially involved in acute phase immunosuppression; we found high expression levels of IL-10 and iNOS mRNA in day 7-infected livers, which indicates a possible role for these molecules in the observed immune suppression. Taken together, these results indicate that malaria parasite accumulation within the liver could be an escape mechanism to avoid sterile immunity sponsored by a tolerogenic environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere81409
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 27 2013
Externally publishedYes


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