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Nonlethal Plasmodium yoelii Infection Drives Complex Patterns of Th2-Type Host Immunity and Mast Cell-Dependent Bacteremia


Malaria strongly predisposes to bacteremia, which is associated with sequestration of parasitized red blood cells and increased gastrointestinal permeability. The mechanisms underlying this disruption are poorly understood. Here, we evaluated the expression of factors associated with mast cell activation and malaria-associated bacteremia in a rodent model. C57BL/6J mice were infected with Plasmodium yoeliiyoelli 17XNL, and blood and tissues were collected over time to assay for circulating levels of bacterial 16S DNA, IgE, mast cell protease 1 (Mcpt-1) and Mcpt-4, Th1 and Th2 cytokines, and patterns of ileal mastocytosis and intestinal permeability. The anti-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-4 [IL-4], IL-6, and IL-10) and MCP-1/CCL2 were detected early after P. yoeliiyoelii 17XNL infection. This was followed by the appearance of IL-9 and IL-13, cytokines known for their roles in mast cell activation and growth-enhancing activity as well as IgE production. Later increases in circulating IgE, which can induce mast cell degranulation, as well as Mcpt-1 and Mcpt-4, were observed concurrently with bacteremia and increased intestinal permeability. These results suggest that P. yoeliiyoelii 17XNL infection induces the production of early cytokines that activate mast cells and drive IgE production, followed by elevated IgE, IL-9, and IL-13 that maintain and enhance mast cell activation while disrupting the protease/antiprotease balance in the intestine, contributing to epithelial damage and increased permeability.

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