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Keywords:

  • cerebral malaria;
  • TIM1;
  • promoter;
  • polymorphism;
  • Thailand

Summary

Although cerebral malaria is a major life-threatening complication of Plasmodium falciparum infection, its pathophysiology is not well understood. Prolonged activation of the T helper type 1 (Th1) response characterized by the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IFN-γ and TNF-α has been suggested to be responsible for immunopathological process leading to cerebral malaria unless they are downregulated by the anti-inflamatory cytokines produced by the Th2 response. The T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain (TIM) family of proteins are cell surface proteins involved in regulating Th1 and Th2 immune responses. In this study, the possible association between the polymorphisms of TIM1, TIM3, and TIMD4 genes and the severity of malaria was examined in 478 adult Thai patients infected with P. falciparum malaria. The TIM1 promoter haplotype comprising three derived alleles, -1637A (rs7702919), -1549C (rs41297577) and -1454A (rs41297579), which were in complete linkage disequilibrium, was significantly associated with protection against cerebral malaria (OR = 0.41; 95% CI = 0.24–0.71; P= 0.0009). Allele-specific transcription quantification analysis revealed that the level of mRNA transcribed from TIM1 was higher for the protective promoter haplotype than for the other promoter haplotype (P= 0.004). Engagement with TIM1 in combination with T cell receptor stimulation induces anti-inflammatory Th2 cytokine production, which can protect the development of cerebral malaria caused by overproduction of pro-inflammatory Th1 cytokines. The present results suggest that the higher TIM1 expression associated with the protective TIM1 promoter haplotype confers protection against cerebral malaria.