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The functional properties, regarding parasite growth inhibition in vitro, the cytotoxic potential and cytokine profiles of human gammadelta+ and alphabeta+ T cells, T-cell lines and clones stimulated with Plasmodium falciparum-antigen-or T-cell mitogen in vitro were investigated. Using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and specific primers, mRNA for the cytolytic molecules perforin, granzyme A and B, Fas and Fas ligand (FasL) were detected in both the gammadelta- and the alphabetaT cells. Despite this fact, only gammadeltaT cells inhibited, both Vdelta1+ and Vdelta2+, the in vitro growth of the asexual blood stages in a dose dependent manner. The inhibition required cell-to-cell contact and was not observed until the second parasite replication implied that the likely gammadeltaT-cell target was the extracellular merozoite or schizont. The failure of alphabetaT cells to inhibit the growth of the parasite suggests requirement of additional cytolytic molecules/signals or different receptor specificities exhibited by the gammadeltaT cells. Both the gammadelta- and alphabetaT cells expressed mRNA for a large number of cytokines. Interferon (IFN)-gamma, interleukin (IL) IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha), tumour necrosis factor beta (TNF-beta)/lymphotoxin (LT) and T-cell growth factor beta-1 (TGF-beta1) were observed in all activated clones tested. No IL-3 was detected, while IL-1beta, IL-2, IL-4, IL-10 and GM-CSF were variably expressed. In conclusion, our data show that gammadeltaT cells in malaria nonimmune individuals inhibit the asexual blood stages of P. falciparum malaria, while similarly activated alphabetaT cells do not. Thus, it is likely that the gammadeltaT cells could play a mandatory role in the elimination of parasites and/or the regulation of the early immune response to malaria infection.

Original publication




Journal article


Scandinavian journal of immunology

Publication Date





642 - 650


Department of Immunology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.


Erythrocytes, T-Lymphocyte Subsets, Cells, Cultured, Animals, Humans, Plasmodium falciparum, Serine Endopeptidases, Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor, Membrane Glycoproteins, Phytohemagglutinins, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta, Antigens, CD95, RNA, Messenger, Antigens, Protozoan, Cytokines, Lymphokines, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Lymphocyte Activation, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, Pore Forming Cytotoxic Proteins, Granzymes, Fas Ligand Protein, Perforin