CD4+ T cell responses to the Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 in children with mild malaria.
Gitau EN., Tuju J., Karanja H., Stevenson L., Requena P., Kimani E., Olotu A., Kimani D., Marsh K., Bull P., Urban BC.
The immune response against the variant surface Ag Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) is a key component of clinical immunity against malaria. We have investigated the development and maintenance of CD4(+) T cell responses to a small semiconserved area of the Duffy binding-like domain (DBL)α-domain of PfEMP1, the DBLα-tag. Young children were followed up longitudinally, and parasites and PBMCs were isolated from 35 patients presenting with an acute case of uncomplicated malaria. The DBLα-tag from the PfEMP1 dominantly expressed by the homologous parasite isolate was cloned and expressed as recombinant protein. The recombinant DBLα-tag was used to activate PBMCs collected from each acute episode and from an annual cross-sectional survey performed after the acute malaria episode. In this article, we report that CD4(+) T cell responses to the homologous DBLα-tag were induced in 75% of the children at the time of the acute episode and in 62% of the children at the following cross-sectional survey on average 235 d later. Furthermore, children who had induced DBLα-tag-specific CD4(+)IL-4(+) T cells at the acute episode remained episode free for longer than children who induced other types of CD4(+) T cell responses. These results suggest that a wide range of DBLα-tag-specific CD4(+) T cell responses were induced in children with mild malaria and, in the case of CD4(+)IL-4(+) T cell responses, were associated with protection from clinical episodes.