Effector T cells exhibiting features of either T helper 1 (Th1) or T follicular helper (Tfh) populations are essential to control experimental Plasmodium infection and are believed to be critical for resistance to clinical malaria. To determine whether Plasmodium-specific Th1- and Tfh-like effector cells generate memory populations that contribute to protection, we developed transgenic parasites that enable high-resolution study of anti-malarial memory CD4 T cells in experimental models. We found that populations of both Th1- and Tfh-like Plasmodium-specific memory CD4 T cells persist. Unexpectedly, Th1-like memory cells exhibit phenotypic and functional features of Tfh cells during recall and provide potent B cell help and protection following transfer, characteristics that are enhanced following ligation of the T cell co-stimulatory receptor OX40. Our findings delineate critical functional attributes of Plasmodium-specific memory CD4 T cells and identify a host-specific factor that can be targeted to improve resolution of acute malaria and provide durable, long-term protection against Plasmodium parasite re-exposure. Th1 CD4 T cells are widely described as terminally differentiated with a relatively reduced capacity to form memory or support humoral immunity. Using experimental malaria models, Zander et al. show that potent proliferative and B cell helper activity unexpectedly resides within the Plasmodium-specific Th1-like memory CD4 T cell compartment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology