Background: Repeated exposure to Plasmodium falciparum is associated with perturbations in B cell sub-set homeostasis, including expansion atypical memory B cells. However, B cell perturbations immediately following acute malaria infection have been poorly characterized, especially with regard to their relationship with immunity to malaria.
Methods: To better understand the kinetics of B cell sub-sets following malaria, the proportions of six B cell sub-sets were assessed at five time points following acute malaria in four to 5 years old children living in a high transmission region of Uganda. B cell sub-set kinetics were compared with measures of clinical immunity to malaria-lower parasite density at the time of malaria diagnosis and recent asymptomatic parasitaemia.
Results: Atypical memory B cell and transitional B cell proportions increased following malaria. In contrast, plasmablast proportions were highest at the time of malaria diagnosis and rapidly declined following treatment. Increased proportions of atypical memory B cells were associated with greater immunity to malaria, whereas increased proportions of transitional B cells were associated with evidence of less immunity to malaria.
Conclusions: These findings highlight the dynamic changes in multiple B cell sub-sets following acute, uncomplicated malaria, and how these sub-sets are associated with developing immunity to malaria.