Research ArticleMalaria

In utero priming of highly functional effector T cell responses to human malaria

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Science Translational Medicine  17 Oct 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 463, eaat6176
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aat6176

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Prenatal Plasmodium reactivity

Fetal immunity is generally thought to be skewed toward tolerance. Odorizzi et al. used samples from a study in Uganda to determine whether placental malaria infection modulated fetal immune responses to malaria. They stimulated cord blood cells in vitro and found that the fetal cells from cases of placental malaria were more reactive to Plasmodium antigens. Moreover, clinical follow-up revealed that this increased T cell response correlated with protection from childhood malaria. Their results demonstrate that protective immune responses in humans are able to develop even before birth. These findings not only contribute to our knowledge of human fetal immunity but also have implications for malaria control programs.