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BACKGROUND: Malaria still infects many Malawian children, and it is a cause of death in some of them. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) help in negating immune-related pathology, it but can also favor multiplication of malaria parasites. The question remains whether children recovering from uncomplicated malaria (UCM) have higher Tregs and interleukin (IL)-10 levels in convalescence. METHODS: We recruited children between the ages of 6 and 60 months presenting with acute UCM in Blantyre (low transmission area) and Chikwawa (high transmission area). We observed the children after 1 month and 3 months and analyzed their blood samples for parasitemia, lymphocyte subsets, and levels of the cytokines interferon (IFN)-γ, IL-10, and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. Blood samples from age-matched controls were also analyzed for the same parameters. RESULTS: Compared with controls, acute UCM was associated with mild lymphopenia, splenomegaly, and high levels of IFN-γ, tumor necrosis factor-α, and IL-10, which normalized in convalescence. In Chikwawa, Treg counts were significantly (P < .0001) higher in convalescence compared with acute disease, whereas in Blantyre, these were as low as in healthy controls both during acute disease and in convalescence. Blantyre had a higher percentage of parasiteamic children (15% versus 12%) in convalescence compared with Chikwawa, but none of these developed symptomatic malaria during the study duration. Concentrations of TGF-β were higher at time points for the study participants and in controls from Blantyre compared with those recruited in Chikwawa. CONCLUSIONS: The high transmission area was associated with high Tregs counts and IL-10 concentrations in convalescence, which could have an effect on parasite clearance. We recommend that children recovering from UCM, especially those from high transmission area, should sleep under insecticide-treated nets, be screened for parasitemia, and a provision of antimalarial prophylaxis should be considered.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc

Publication Date





232 - 241


IL-10, convalescence, interleukin-10, lymphopenia, regulatory T cells, uncomplicated malaria, Child, Preschool, Cohort Studies, Convalescence, Cytokines, Disease Transmission, Infectious, Female, HIV, HIV Infections, Humans, Infant, Interferon-gamma, Interleukin-10, Malaria, Malawi, Male, Parasitemia, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, Prospective Studies, T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory, Transforming Growth Factor beta, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha