Author(s): Cabantous S, Poudiougou B, Oumar AA, Traore A, Barry A,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Severe malaria (SM) due to Plasmodium falciparum causes millions of child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. It comprises a variety of clinical disorders, including cerebral malaria (CM) and severe anemia (SA). In previous work, we have shown that interferon gamma and interleukin 12 protect against CM. Here, we investigated whether interleukin 4 (IL-4) aggravates the risk of severe disease. METHODS: We prospectively recruited children with CM (n = 240), SA (n = 101), and uncomplicated malaria (UM) (n = 42) in Bamako, Mali, and measured IL-4 production in plasma by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We then assessed the influence of 11 polymorphisms on predisposition to SM by the family-based association test (FBAT). RESULTS: IL-4 concentrations were higher in children with CM than in children with UM during malaria (P = .003). FBAT analyses showed that the most significant association was between the IL4 variable-number tandem repeat (VNTR) 1/2 genotype and SM (P < .001); an association was also observed for IL4 -33 C/T, rs2243267 G/C, rs2243268 C/A, and rs2243282 C/A (P < .05). Interestingly, we found that the plasma concentration of IL-4 was higher in subjects with the IL4 VNTR 1/2 or 1/1 genotype than with the IL4 VNTR 2/2 genotype (P = .003). CONCLUSIONS: These results support the view that IL-4 may be a risk factor for SM. IL-4 may aggravate the disease by interfering with type 1 T helper cell differentiation or by promoting local inflammation at sites of parasite sequestration.
This article was published in J Infect Dis
and referenced in Journal of Blood Disorders & Transfusion