Dynamic modulation of spleen germinal center reactions by gut bacteria during Plasmodium infection

Cell Rep. 2021 May 11;35(6):109094. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109094.


Gut microbiota educate the local and distal immune system in early life to imprint long-term immunological outcomes while maintaining the capacity to dynamically modulate the local mucosal immune system throughout life. It is unknown whether gut microbiota provide signals that dynamically regulate distal immune responses following an extra-gastrointestinal infection. We show here that gut bacteria composition correlated with the severity of malaria in children. Using the murine model of malaria, we demonstrate that parasite burden and spleen germinal center reactions are malleable to dynamic cues provided by gut bacteria. Whereas antibiotic-induced changes in gut bacteria have been associated with immunopathology or impairment of immunity, the data demonstrate that antibiotic-induced changes in gut bacteria can enhance immunity to Plasmodium. This effect is not universal but depends on baseline gut bacteria composition. These data demonstrate the dynamic communications that exist among gut bacteria, the gut-distal immune system, and control of Plasmodium infection.

Keywords: Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium yoelii; antibiotics; germinal center; gut microbiota; humoral immunity; severe malaria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology*
  • Germinal Center / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Malaria / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Spleen / physiopathology*