Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 27432939
Link to DOI – 10.1084/jem.20151976
J Exp Med 2016 07; 213(8): 1419-28
Although most vaccines against blood stage malaria in development today use subunit preparations, live attenuated parasites confer significantly broader and more lasting protection. In recent years, Plasmodium genetically attenuated parasites (GAPs) have been generated in rodent models that cause self-resolving blood stage infections and induce strong protection. All such GAPs generated so far bear mutations in housekeeping genes important for parasite development in red blood cells. In this study, using a Plasmodium berghei model compatible with tracking anti-blood stage immune responses over time, we report a novel blood stage GAP that lacks a secreted factor related to histamine-releasing factor (HRF). Lack of HRF causes an IL-6 increase, which boosts T and B cell responses to resolve infection and leave a cross-stage, cross-species, and lasting immunity. Mutant-induced protection involves a combination of antiparasite IgG2c antibodies and FcγR(+) CD11b(+) cell phagocytes, especially neutrophils, which are sufficient to confer protection. This immune-boosting GAP highlights an important role of opsonized parasite-mediated phagocytosis, which may be central to protection induced by all self-resolving blood stage GAP infections.