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NK cells and conventional dendritic cells engage in reciprocal activation for the induction of inflammatory responses during Plasmodium berghei ANKA infection.

Ryg-Cornejo V, Nie CQ, Bernard NJ, Lundie RJ, Evans KJ, Crabb BS, Schofield L, Hansen DS

  • Journal Immunobiology

  • Published 23 May 2012

  • Volume 218

  • ISSUE 2

  • Pagination 263-71

  • DOI 10.1016/j.imbio.2012.05.018


Cerebral malaria (CM) is the most severe syndrome associated with Plasmodium falciparum infections. Experimental evidence suggests that disease results from the sequestration of parasitized-red blood cells (pRBCs) together with inflammatory leukocytes within brain capillaries. We have previously shown that NK cells stimulate migration of CXCR3(+) T cells to the brain of Plasmodium berghei ANKA-infected mice. Here we investigated whether interactions between NK cells and dendritic cells (DCs) are required for the induction of T cell responses involved in disease. For that, NK cell-depleted and control mice were infected with transgenic parasites expressing model T cell epitopes. T cells from TCR transgenic mice specific for those epitopes were adoptively transferred and proliferation was determined. NK cell depletion significantly reduced CD8(+) but not CD4(+) DC-mediated T cell priming. Lack of NK cells did not compromise CD8(+) T cell responses in IL-12(-/-) mice, suggesting that NK cells stimulate IL-12 output by DCs required for optimal T cell priming. The contribution of DCs to NK cell function was also investigated. DC depletion and genetic deletion of IL-12 dramatically reduced NK cell-mediated IFN-γ responses to malaria. Thus NK cells and DCs engage in reciprocal activation for the induction of inflammatory responses involved in severe malaria.