The malaria parasite, Plasmodium yoelii 17X, causes a self-limited, nonlethal infection characterized, in the blood stage, by preferential invasion of reticulocytes. Previous studies have suggested that immunity to the blood stage infection may be related to enhanced levels of class I MHC Ag on the parasitized reticulocyte surface and can be adoptively transferred to immunodeficient mice by immune CD8+ T cells in the absence of CD4+ T cells. To further examine the mechanisms of CD8+ T cell involvement in immunity to blood stage P. yoelii infection, we performed in vivo CD8 depletion and adoptive transfer experiments. Depletion of CD8+ T cells during primary blood stage infection in BALB/c mice did not diminish the ability of the mice to resolve their infections. Spleen cells from immune BALB/c and C57BL/10 mice were transferred to BALB/c-nu/nu and C57BL/10-nu/nu mice, respectively. The recipient mice were CD4 depleted in vivo to kill any transferred CD4+ T cells. The mice failed to control the infection. Populations of CD4-, CD8+ T cells were transferred from immune CBA/CaJ donors to in vivo CD4-depleted CBA/CaJ recipients. The mice were unable to control the infection. Although immune unfractionated spleen cells transferred rapid protection in all three mouse strains and immune CD4+ T cells transferred immunity in the two mouse strains studied, CD8+ T cells by themselves were neither protective nor did they enhance immunity.

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