Suppression of Lethal Plasmodium yoelii Malaria following Protective Immunization Requires Antibody-, Il-4-, and Ifn--Dependent Responses Induced by Vaccination and/or Challenge Infection

Petritus, P.M.; Burns, J.M.

The Journal of Immunology 180(1): 444-453


DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.180.1.444
Accession: 068490854

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Immunization with Plasmodium yoelii merozoite surface protein (PyMSP)-8 protects mice from lethal malaria but does not prevent infection. Using this merozoite surface protein-based vaccine model, we investigated vaccine- and infection-induced immune responses that contribute to protection. Analysis of prechallenge sera from rPyMSP-8-immunized C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice revealed high and comparable levels of Ag-specific IgG, but differences in isotype profile and specificity for conformational epitopes were noted. As both strains of mice were similarly protected against P. yoelii, we could not correlate vaccine-induced responses with protection. However, passive immunization studies suggested that protection resulted from differing immune responses. Studies with cytokine-deficient mice showed that protection was induced by immunization of C57BL/6 mice only when IL-4 and IFN-gamma were both present. In BALB/c mice, the absence of either IL-4 or IFN-gamma led to predictable shifts in the IgG isotype profile but did not reduce the magnitude of the Ab response induced by rPyMSP-8 immunization. Immunized IL-4-/- BALB/c mice were solidly protected against P. yoelii. To our surprise, immunized IFN-gamma-/- BALB/c mice initially controlled parasite growth but eventually succumbed to infection. Analysis of cytokine production revealed that P. yoelii infection induced two distinct peaks of IFN-gamma that correlated with periods of controlled parasite growth in intact, rPyMSP-8-immunized BALB/c mice. Maximal parasite growth occurred during a period of sustained TGF-beta production. Combined, the data indicate that induction of protective responses by merozoite surface protein-based vaccines depends on IL-4 and IFN-gamma-dependent pathways and that vaccine efficacy is significantly influenced by host responses elicited upon infection.