T follicular helper cells regulate the activation of B lymphocytes and antibody production during <i>Plasmodium vivax</i> infection
by Maria Marta Figueiredo, Pedro Augusto Carvalho Costa, Suelen Queiroz Diniz, Priscilla Miranda Henriques, Flora Satiko Kano, Mauro Sugiro Tada, Dhelio Batista Pereira, Irene Silva Soares, Olindo Assis Martins-Filho, Dragana Jankovic, Ricardo Tostes Gazzinelli, Lis Ribeiro do Valle AntonelliAlthough the importance of humoral immunity to malaria has been established, factors that control antibody production are poorly understood. Follicular helper T cells (Tfh cells) are pivotal for generating high-affinity, long-lived antibody responses. While it has been proposed that expansion of antigen-specific Tfh cells, interleukin (IL) 21 production and robust germinal center formation are associated with protection against malaria in mice, whether Tfh cells are found during Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) infection and if they play a role during disease remains unknown. Our goal was to define the role of Tfh cells during P. vivax malaria. We demonstrate that P. vivax infection triggers IL-21 production and an increase in Tfh cells (PD-1+ICOS+CXCR5+CD45RO+CD4+CD3+). As expected, FACS-sorted Tfh cells, the primary source of IL-21, induced immunoglobulin production by purified naïve B cells. Furthermore, we found that P. vivax infection alters the B cell compartment and these alterations were dependent on the number of previous infections. First exposure leads to increased proportions of activated and atypical memory B cells and decreased frequencies of classical memory B cells, whereas patients that experienced multiple episodes displayed lower proportions of atypical B cells and higher frequencies of classical memory B cells. Despite the limited sample size, but consistent with the latter finding, the data suggest that patients who had more than five infections harbored more Tfh cells and produce more specific antibodies. P. vivax infection triggers IL-21 production by Tfh that impact B cell responses in humans.
Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article
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