Background: Plasmodium falciparum parasites cause malaria and co-exist in humans together with B-cells for long periods of time. Immunity is only achieved after repeated exposure. There has been a lack of methods to mimic the in vivo co-occurrence, where cells and parasites can be grown together for many days, and it has been difficult with long time in vitro studies. Methods and results: A new method for growing P. falciparum in 5% CO2 with a specially formulated culture medium is described. This knowledge was used to establish the co-culture of live P. falciparum together with human B-cells in vitro for 10 days. The presence of B-cells clearly enhanced parasite growth, but less so when Transwell inserts were used (not allowing passage of cells or merozoites), showing that direct contact is advantageous. B-cells also proliferated more in presence of parasites. Symbiotic parasitic growth was verified using CESS cell-line and it showed similar results, indicating that B-cells are indeed the cells responsible for the effect. In malaria endemic areas, people often have increased levels of atypical memory B-cells in the blood, and in this assay it was demonstrated that when parasites were present there was an increase in the proportion of CD19 + CD20 + CD27 − FCRL4 + B-cells, and a contraction of classical memory B-cells. This effect was most clearly seen when direct contact between B-cells and parasites was allowed. Conclusions: These results demonstrate that P. falciparum and B-cells undoubtedly can affect each other when allowed to multiply together, which is valuable information for future vaccine studies.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Immunology in the medical area
- Plasmodium falciparum