Classical CD11c+ dendritic cells, not plasmacytoid dendritic cells, induce T cell responses to Plasmodium chabaudi malaria


Dendritic cells play an important role in the development of immune responses in malaria, but the contribution of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) to CD4 T cell activation and immunopathology is unknown. We have investigated pDC in a Plasmodium chabaudi infection in mice. During infection, pDC increased in number and transiently up-regulated expression of Major Histocompatibility Complex class II and co-stimulatory molecules. However, in contrast to classical CD11c(high) DC, pDC could not phagocytose parasites or process parasite proteins, to activate CD4 T cells. Activation of naïve pDC, but not CD11c(high) DC, by infected red blood cells induced IFN alpha in vitro, which was dependent on the Toll-like receptor, TLR9. However, inactivation of TLR9 in knock-out mice had no effect on a P. chabaudi infection suggesting that TLR9 was not crucial for parasite elimination or pathology. Neither pDC nor IFN alpha beta were essential for parasite clearance as mice depleted of pDC or IFN alpha beta Receptor-knock-out mice could control infection. However, these mice lost significantly more weight than untreated or wild-type mice. We conclude that classical DC are the major antigen-presenting cells for CD4 T cells in this infection, but that pDC and IFN alpha beta may play minor roles in controlling the magnitude of acute stage pathology.

Journal details

Volume 40
Issue number 6
Pages 711-719
Publication date


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