gamma delta T cells have variously been implicated in the protection against, and the pathogenesis of, malaria, but few studies have examined the gamma delta T-cell response to malaria in African children, who suffer the large majority of malaria-associated morbidity and mortality. This is unfortunate, since available data suggest that simple extrapolation of conclusions drawn from studies of nonimmune adults ex vivo and in vitro is not always possible. Here we show that both the frequencies and the absolute numbers of gamma delta T cells are transiently increased following treatment of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Ghanaian children and they can constitute 30 to 50% of all T cells shortly after initiation of antimalarial chemotherapy. The bulk of the gamma delta T cells involved in this perturbation expressed V delta 1 and had a highly activated phenotype. Analysis of the T-cell receptors (TCR) of the V delta 1(+) cell population at the peak of their increase showed that all expressed V gamma chains were used, and CDR3 length polymorphism indicated that the expanded V delta 1 population was highly polyclonal. A very high proportion of the V delta 1(+) T cells produced gamma interferon, while fewer V delta 1(+) cells than the average proportion of all CD3(+) cells produced tumor necrosis factor alpha. No interleukin 10 production was detected among TCR-gamma delta(+) cells in general or V delta 1(+) cells in particular. Taken together, our data point to an immunoregulatory role of the expanded V delta 1(+) T-cell population in this group of semi-immune P. falciparum malaria patients.
Infection and Immunity, 2001, Vol 69, Issue 5, p. 3190-6