Plasmodium chabaudi adami: interferon-gamma but not IL-2 is essential for the expression of cell-mediated immunity against blood-stage parasites in mice

Exp Parasitol. 2003 Oct;105(2):159-66. doi: 10.1016/j.exppara.2003.12.003.


Cell-mediated immunity (CMI) may be important in immunity against blood-stage malaria. Accordingly, we examined the role of type 1 cytokines in the resolution of Plasmodium chabaudi adami malaria in mice genetically modified to have type 1 cytokine gene defects. Parasitemia was prolonged in double knockout (IL-2(-/-), IFNgamma(-/-)) mice compared to control mice. Despite deficiencies in gammadelta T cell and B cell subsets, these mice produced anti-malarial antibodies and eventually cured their infections, possibly by antibody-mediated immunity. However, because acute P. c. adami parasitemia may also be suppressed by CMI, the requirements for IL-2 and IFNgamma were evaluated in mice lacking B cells and functional IL-2 or IFNgamma genes. Acute malaria in J(H)(-/-), IL-2(-/-) mice was prolonged, but eventually cured. In contrast, J(H)(-/-), IFNgamma(-/-) mice developed unremitting parasitemia. These data strongly suggest that IFNgamma, but not IL-2, plays an essential role in the expression of CMI against P. c. adami infections. This finding may prove useful in developing malarial vaccines aimed at inducing CMI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / biosynthesis
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunoglobulin G / biosynthesis
  • Immunoglobulin M / biosynthesis
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology*
  • Interleukin-2 / genetics
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • Malaria / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Parasitemia / immunology*
  • Plasmodium chabaudi / immunology*
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / immunology


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interferon-gamma