Neutrophils are the most abundant leukocyte population in the bloodstream, the primary compartment of Plasmodium sp. infection. However, the role of these polymorphonuclear cells in mediating either the resistance or the pathogenesis of malaria is poorly understood. We report that circulating neutrophils from malaria patients are highly activated, as indicated by a strong type I interferon transcriptional signature, increased expression of surface activation markers, enhanced release of reactive oxygen species and myeloperoxidase, and a high frequency of low-density granulocytes. The activation of neutrophils was associated with increased levels of serum alanine and aspartate aminotransferases, indicating liver damage. In a rodent malaria model, we observed intense recruitment of neutrophils to liver sinusoids. Neutrophil migration and IL-1β and chemokine expression as well as liver damage were all dependent on type I interferon signaling. The data suggest that type I interferon signaling has a central role in neutrophil activation and malaria pathogenesis. Rocha et al. demonstrate an increased frequency of activated neutrophils and low-density granulocytes in P. vivax patients. The activation stage of neutrophils was associated with a type I IFN transcriptional signature. Importantly, IFNAR and caspase 1/11 were shown to play a central role in neutrophil recruitment and liver damage in rodent malaria.
Rocha, B. C., Marques, P. E., Leoratti, F. M. de S., Junqueira, C., Pereira, D. B., Antonelli, L. R. do V., … Gazzinelli, R. T. (2015). Type I Interferon Transcriptional Signature in Neutrophils and Low-Density Granulocytes Are Associated with Tissue Damage in Malaria. Cell Reports, 13(12), 2829–2841. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2015.11.055