Priming of CD4+ T cells and development of CD4+ T cell memory; lessons for malaria


: J. Langhorne, National Institute for Medical Research, Division of Parasitology, The Ridgeway, London NW7 1AA, UK (e-mail:


CD4 T cells play a central role in the immune response to malaria. They are required to help B cells produce the antibody that is essential for parasite clearance. They also produce cytokines that amplify the phagocytic and parasitocidal response of the innate immune system, as well as dampening this response later on to limit immunopathology. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms by which T helper cells are activated and the requirements for development of specific, and effective, T cell memory and immunity is essential in the quest for a malaria vaccine. In this paper on the CD4 session of the Immunology of Malaria Infections meeting, we summarize discussions of CD4 cell priming and memory in malaria and in vaccination and outline critical future lines of investigation. B. Stockinger and M.K. Jenkins proposed cutting edge experimental systems to study basic T cell biology in malaria. Critical parameters in T cell activation include the cell types involved, the route of infection and the timing and location and cell types involved in antigen presentation. A new generation of vaccines that induce CD4 T cell activation and memory are being developed with new adjuvants. Studies of T cell memory focus on differentiation and factors involved in maintenance of antigen specific T cells and control of the size of that population. To improve detection of T cell memory in the field, efforts will have to be made to distinguish antigen-specific responses from cytokine driven responses.