The Protective Role of T Cells in Immunity to Malaria

  • William P. Weidanz
  • David A. Brake
  • Lisa A. Cavacini
  • Carole A. Long
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 239)


Members of the genus Plasmodium have a complex life cycle which involves both vertebrate and invertebrate hosts. In the former, they parasitize the erythron, causing malaria, a disease characterized by high morbidity and mortality worldwide. In an effort to develop an effective vaccine to combat this disease, research has focused primarily on extracellular stages of the parasite presumably because they should be more accessible to antibody-dependent resistance mechanisms than intracellular parasites. Target stages include sporozoites, gametes, and merozoites. In addition, plasmodial antigens expressed on the membranes of infected erythrocytes are being studied as potential targets of protective antibodies.1 Certain of the stage specific antigens which have been identified and expressed by recombinant DNA technology or synthesized biochemically in the laboratory are currently being investigated in experimental animals and humans as candidate vaccines.2–4 In contrast, other data suggest that plasmodia can be destroyed during intracellular development by immune mechanisms apart from or in addition to those mediated by antibodies.5 While efforts to define these immune mechanisms and to identify and characterize parasite antigens responsible for their activation have only recently begun, it is possible that they will provide a basis for the design of additional immunizing agents to be tested against malaria. In this article, we will review certain evidence that T cells, in addition to their function as helper cells in the production of protective antibodies, play an essential though as yet undefined role in antibody-independent immunity to malaria, and we will speculate on mechanisms by which protection is achieved.


Nude Mouse Post Infection Adoptive Transfer Protective Antibody Murine Malaria 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • William P. Weidanz
    • 1
  • David A. Brake
    • 1
  • Lisa A. Cavacini
    • 1
  • Carole A. Long
    • 1
  1. 1.The Malaria Research Group Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyHahnemann University School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA

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