Parasite-dependent expansion of TNF receptor II-positive regulatory T cells with enhanced suppressive activity in adults with severe malaria

Gabriela Minigo, Tonia Woodberry, Kim Piera, E SALWATI, E TJITRA, Enny Kenangalem, Ric Price, C ENGWERDA, Nicholas Anstey, M PLEBANSKI

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119 Citations (Scopus)


Severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a major cause of global mortality, yet the immunological factors underlying progression to severe disease remain unclear. CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Treg cells) are associated with impaired T cell control of Plasmodium spp infection. We investigated the relationship between Treg cells, parasite biomass, and P. falciparum malaria disease severity in adults living in a malaria-endemic region of Indonesia. CD4+CD25+Foxp3+CD127 lo Treg cells were significantly elevated in patients with uncomplicated (UM; n = 17) and severe malaria (SM; n = 16) relative to exposed asymptomatic controls (AC; n = 10). In patients with SM, Treg cell frequency correlated positively with parasitemia (r = 0.79, p > 0.0003) and total parasite biomass (r = 0.87, p,0.001), both major determinants for the development of severe and fatal malaria, and Treg cells were significantly increased in hyperparasitemia. There was a further significant correlation between Treg cell frequency and plasma concentrations of soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor II (TNFRII) in SM. A subset of TNFRII+ Treg cells with high expression of Foxp3 was increased in severe relative to uncomplicated malaria. In vitro, P. falciparum-infected red blood cells dose dependently induced TNFRII+Foxp3hi Treg cells in PBMC from malaria-unexposed donors which showed greater suppressive activity than TNFRII2 Treg cells. The selective enrichment of the Treg cell compartment for a maximally suppressive TNFRII+Foxp3hi Treg subset in severe malaria provides a potential link between immune suppression, increased parasite biomass, and malaria disease severity. The findings caution against the induction of TNFRII+Foxp3hi Treg cells when developing effective malaria vaccines. � 2009 Minigo et al.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1000402-
JournalPLoS Pathogens
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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