Trypanosoma brucei infection protects mice against malaria

Margarida Sanches-Vaz, Adriana Temporão, Rafael Luis, Helena Nunes-Cabaço, António M. Mendes, Sarah Goellner*, Tania Carvalho, Luisa M. Figueiredo, Miguel PrudêncioI

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Sleeping sickness and malaria are parasitic diseases with overlapping geographical distributions in sub-Saharan Africa. We hypothesized that the immune response elicited by an infection with Trypanosoma brucei, the etiological agent of sleeping sickness, would inhibit a subsequent infection by Plasmodium, the malaria parasite, decreasing the severity of its associated pathology. To investigate this, we established a new co-infection model in which mice were initially infected with T. brucei, followed by administration of P. berghei sporozoites. We observed that a primary infection by T. brucei significantly attenuates a subsequent infection by the malaria parasite, protecting mice from experimental cerebral malaria and prolonging host survival. We further observed that an ongoing T. brucei infection leads to an accumulation of lymphocyte-derived IFN-γ in the liver, limiting the establishment of a subsequent hepatic infection by P. berghei sporozoites. Thus, we identified a novel host-mediated interaction between two parasitic infections, which may be epidemiologically relevant in regions of Trypanosoma/Plasmodium co-endemicity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1008145
JournalPLoS Pathogens
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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