High Levels of Circulating IL-10 in Human Malaria

Clin Exp Immunol. 1994 Feb;95(2):300-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.1994.tb06527.x.


IL-10 is a monocyte/lymphocyte derived cytokine which has been shown to inhibit certain cellular immune responses such as delayed hypersensitivity. In particular, the production of tumour necrosis factor (TNF), IL-1 and IL-6, which are involved in malaria pathology, are strongly inhibited by IL-10. Accordingly, we examined whether IL-10 could be involved in a human acute parasitic infection such as Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Human IL-10 levels in plasma were determined by two-site ELISA method, taking care to avoid non-specific reactions due to autoantibodies. Fourteen cerebral, 11 severe, and 20 mild malaria cases had mean IL-10 levels of 2812, 2882 and 913 pg/ml, respectively, while 98% of healthy individuals had undetectable (less than 100 pg/ml) circulating IL-10. Thirteen of the 25 cerebral/severe cases had > 2000 pg/ml. In 11 hospitalized patients, circulating IL-10 levels were found to return to virtually normal levels 7 days after antimalarial chemotherapy when biological and clinical malaria features had disappeared (mean levels fell from 3880 to 333 pg/ml). Further studies are required to determine whether these elevated levels of IL-10 play a beneficial role by reducing the parasite-induced inflammatory response, or a detrimental one by decreasing the cellular immune responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-10 / blood*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / blood*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10