Upregulation of TGF-beta, FOXP3, and CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells correlates with more rapid parasite growth in human malaria infection.
Walther M., Tongren JE., Andrews L., Korbel D., King E., Fletcher H., Andersen RF., Bejon P., Thompson F., Dunachie SJ., Edele F., de Souza JB., Sinden RE., Gilbert SC., Riley EM., Hill AVS.
Understanding the regulation of immune responses is central for control of autoimmune and infectious disease. In murine models of autoimmunity and chronic inflammatory disease, potent regulatory T lymphocytes have recently been characterized. Despite an explosion of interest in these cells, their relevance to human disease has been uncertain. In a longitudinal study of malaria sporozoite infection via the natural route, we provide evidence that regulatory T cells have modifying effects on blood-stage infection in vivo in humans. Cells with the characteristics of regulatory T cells are rapidly induced following blood-stage infection and are associated with a burst of TGF-beta production, decreased proinflammatory cytokine production, and decreased antigen-specific immune responses. Both the production of TGF-beta and the presence of CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ regulatory T cells are associated with higher rates of parasite growth in vivo. P. falciparum-mediated induction of regulatory T cells may represent a parasite-specific virulence factor.