Dichotomous miR expression and immune responses following primary blood-stage malaria

Julie G. Burel, Simon H. Apte, Penny L. Groves, Michelle J. Boyle, Christine Langer, James G. Beeson, James S. McCarthy, Denise L. Doolan

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Clinical responses to infection or vaccination and the development of effective immunity are characterized in humans by a marked interindividual variability. To gain an insight into the factors affecting this variability, we used a controlled human infection system to study early immune events following primary infection of healthy human volunteers with blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria. By day 4 of infection, a dichotomous pattern of high or low expression of a defined set of microRNAs (miRs) emerged in volunteers that correlated with variation in parasite growth rate. Moreover, high-miR responders had higher numbers of activated CD4+ T cells, and developed significantly enhanced antimalarial antibody responses. Notably, a set of 17 miRs was identified in the whole blood of low-miR responders prior to infection that differentiated them from high-miR responders. These data implicate preexisting host factors as major determinants in the ability to effectively respond to primary malaria infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2017


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