Plasmodium falciparum malaria remains one of the most serious health problems globally and a protective malaria vaccine is desperately needed. Vaccination with attenuated parasites elicits multiple cellular effector mechanisms that lead to Plasmodium liver stage elimination. While granule-mediated cytotoxicity requires contact between CD8+ effector T cells and infected hepatocytes, cytokine secretion should allow parasite killing over longer distances. To better understand the mechanism of parasite elimination in vivo, we monitored the dynamics of CD8+ T cells in the livers of naïve, immunized and sporozoite-infected mice by intravital microscopy. We found that immunization of BALB/c mice with attenuated P. yoelii 17XNL sporozoites significantly increases the velocity of CD8+ T cells patrolling the hepatic microvasculature from 2.69±0.34 μm/min in naïve mice to 5.74±0.66 μm/min, 9.26±0.92 μm/min, and 7.11±0.73 μm/min in mice immunized with irradiated, early genetically attenuated (Pyuis4-deficient), and late genetically attenuated (Pyfabb/f-deficient) parasites, respectively. Sporozoite infection of immunized mice revealed a 97% and 63% reduction in liver stage density and volume, respectively, compared to naïve controls. To examine cellular mechanisms of immunity in situ, naïve mice were passively immunized with hepatic or splenic CD8+ T cells. Unexpectedly, adoptive transfer rendered the motile CD8+ T cells from immunized mice immotile in the liver of P. yoelii infected mice. Similarly, when mice were simultaneously inoculated with viable sporozoites and CD8+ T cells, velocities 18 h later were also significantly reduced to 0.68±0.10 μm/min, 1.53±0.22 μm/min, and 1.06±0.26 μm/min for CD8+ T cells from mice immunized with irradiated wild type sporozoites, Pyfabb/f-deficient parasites, and P. yoelii CS280-288 peptide, respectively. Because immobilized CD8+ T cells are unable to make contact with infected hepatocytes, soluble mediators could potentially play a key role in parasite elimination under these experimental conditions.
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