Cytokines in the pathogenesis of malaria: levels of IL-I beta, IL-4, IL-6, TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma in plasma of healthy individuals and malaria patients in a holoendemic area

J Clin Lab Immunol. 1991 Mar;34(3):131-9.


A longitudinal study was conducted between October 1989 and February 1990 in a malaria holoendemic area of Gabon to determine the plasma concentration of various cytokines in individuals continuously exposed to infection with malaria parasites. No cases of severe malaria were seen and fever was the main presenting symptom of clinical malaria. Parasite rates were highest in children 6-9 years old but clinical malaria was seen essentially in children below 6 years of age. The incidence of clinical malaria was highest in November and February corresponding to the beginning and end of heavy rains respectively. Parasite rates did not show any seasonal variations. Overall, there was no seasonal variation in plasma cytokine levels but both IL-6 and IL-4 levels were highest in February. Plasma concentration of TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma were higher in parasitaemic than aparasitaemic individuals and donors who had clinical malaria had higher levels of TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma and IL-6 than asymptomatic parasitaemic donors. There was a negative correlation between age of the individual and the concentration of plasma TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma suggesting that the production of these cytokines could be modulated by repeated malarial infections. Asymptomatic parasitaemic children 5-7 years of age had higher levels of plasma TNF-alpha than clinically similar children below or above this age group suggesting that refractoriness to the clinical effects of TNF-alpha may be an important factor in the ability of these children to resist clinical malaria.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Gabon / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Interleukin-1 / blood
  • Interleukin-4 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Malaria / epidemiology
  • Malaria / etiology
  • Malaria / immunology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma