BACKGROUND: Investigation of host responses to blood stages of Plasmodium spp, and the immunopathology associated with this phase of the life cycle are often performed on mice infected directly with infected red blood cells. Thus, the effects of mosquito bites and the pre-erythrocytic stages of the parasite, which would be present in natural infection, are ignored In this paper, Plasmodium chabaudi chabaudi infections of mice injected directly with infected red blood cells were compared with those of mice infected by the bites of infected mosquitoes, in order to determine whether the courses of primary infection and splenic CD4 T cell responses are similar.<br /><br />METHODS: C57Bl/6 mice were injected with red blood cells infected with P. chabaudi (ER) or infected via the bite of Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes. Parasitaemia were monitored by Giemsa-stained thin blood films. Total spleen cells, CD4+ T cells, and cytokine production (IFN-gamma, IL-2, IL-4, IL-10) were analysed by flow cytometry. In some experiments, mice were subjected to bites of uninfected mosquitoes prior to infectious bites in order to determine whether mosquito bites per se could affect a subsequent P. chabaudi infection.<br /><br />RESULTS: P. chabaudi (ER) infections initiated by mosquito bite were characterized by lower parasitaemia of shorter duration than those observed after direct blood challenge. However, splenomegaly was comparable suggesting that parasitaemia alone does not account for the increase in spleen size. Total numbers of CD4 T cells and those producing IFN-gamma, IL-10 and IL-2 were reduced in comparison to direct blood challenge. By contrast, the reduction in IL-4 producing cells was less marked suggesting that there is a proportionally lower Th1-like response in mice infected via infectious mosquitoes. Strikingly, pre-exposure to bites of uninfected mosquitoes reduced the magnitude and duration of the subsequent mosquito-transmitted infection still further, but enhanced the response of CD4 T cells producing IFN-gamma and IL-4.<br /><br />CONCLUSION: The data in this paper suggest that studying early host responses in blood stage malaria infections measured after direct blood challenge of mice may not completely reflect the natural situation, and more detailed investigations of blood-stage immunity after mosquito transmission in experimental models should be considered.
Fonseca, L., Seixas, E., Butcher, G., & Langhorne, J. (2007). Cytokine responses of CD4+ T cells during a Plasmodium chabaudi chabaudi (ER) blood-stage infection in mice initiated by the natural route of infection. Malaria Journal, 6. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2875-6-77