Despite extensive evidence that Plasmodium species are capable of stimulating the immune system, the association of malaria with a higher incidence of other infectious diseases and reduced responses to vaccination against unrelated pathogens suggests the existence of immune suppression. Recently, we provided evidence that blood-stage Plasmodium berghei infection leads to suppression of MHC class I-restricted immunity to third party (non-malarial) antigens as a consequence of systemic DC activation. This earlier study did not, however, determine whether reactivity was also impaired to MHC class II-restricted third party antigens or to Plasmodium antigens themselves. Here, we show that while P. berghei-expressed antigens were presented early in infection, there was a rapid decline in presentation within 4 days, paralleling impairment in MHC class I- and II-restricted presentation of third party antigens. This provides important evidence that P. berghei not only causes immunosuppression to subsequently encountered third party antigens, but also rapidly limits the capacity to generate effective parasite-specific immunity.
- Antigen presentation
- T cells