Immunity induced by Plasmodium vivax infection leads to memory T cell recruitment activated during "relapse" or "re-infection". This study aims to characterise memory T cells in patients with acute or convalescent P. vivax infection. Lymphocytes were collected from patients infected by P. vivax, immune controls and naïve controls. The proportion of immature memory T cells, expressing CD45RO+CD27+, and mature cells lacking CD27 was assessed. A statistically significant increase in the median percentage of memory T cell subsets expressing CD4+ was observed in material from patients with an acute infection compared with that from either naïve or immune controls. The high percentage of memory T cells in infected patients was maintained until 60 days post treatment. The immune controls living in a malaria endemic area had a somewhat increased proportion of memory T cell subsets expressing CD8+. An approximately three-fold increase of these cell types was shown in patients with an acute infection and the level persisted until 60 days post treatment. Phenotypic characterisation of the peripheral lymphocytes during acute infection revealed that a large fraction of the lymphocytes carried the γδ phenotypes suggesting a role for these cells in the early response against P. vivax. Very low levels of P. vivax specific antibody were found. This might suggest that cell-mediated immunity may play a greater role in the development of naturally acquired protection against P. vivax infection than humoral immunity. Our results provide further insight into the mechanism of cell-mediated immunity to P. vivax infection that could be important for the future development of a successful vaccine and anti-malarial drug designation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases