Humoral immunity is important in limiting clinical disease in malaria, yet the longitudinal B cell response to infection remains unclear. We performed a 1-year prospective study in patients treated for acute Plasmodium falciparum malaria for the first time or with previous exposure to the disease. Using an unbiased exploratory approach with mass cytometry, followed by targeted flow cytometry, we found that approximately 80% of mature B cells that proliferated in response to acute infection expressed CD11c. Only approximately 40% of CD11c+ B cells displayed an atypical B cell phenotype, with the remaining cells primarily made up of activated and resting memory B cells. The CD11c+ B cells expanded rapidly following infection, with previous exposure to malaria resulting in a significantly larger increase compared with individuals with primary infection. This was attributed to an expansion of switched CD11c+ B cells that was absent in primary infected individuals. The rate of contraction of the CD11c+ B cell compartment was independent of previous exposure to malaria and displayed a slow decay, with a half-life of approximately 300 days. Collectively, these results identify CD11c as a marker of B cells responding to malaria and further highlight differences in primary and secondary B cell responses during infection.
Christopher Sundling, Caroline Rönnberg, Victor Yman, Muhammad Asghar, Peter Jahnmatz, Tadepally Lakshmikanth, Yang Chen, Jaromir Mikes, Mattias N. Forsell, Klara Sondén, Adnane Achour, Petter Brodin, Kristina E.M. Persson, Anna Färnert
Schematic of study cohort and experimental setup.