Cytokine mRNA expression and iron status in children living in a malaria endemic area

Nyakeriga AM, Williams TN, Marsh K, Wambua S, Perlmann H, Perlmann P, Grandien A, Troye-Blomberg M
Scand J Immunol. 2005;61

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Iron deficiency has been reported to affect both malaria pathogenesis and cell-mediated immune responses; however, it is unclear whether the protection afforded by iron deficiency is mediated through direct effects on the parasite, through immune effector functions or through both. We have determined cytokine mRNA expression levels in 59 children living in a malaria endemic area on the coast of Kenya who we selected on the basis of their biochemical iron status. Real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis of cytokine mRNA levels of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) obtained from these children showed an association between interleukin-4 (IL-4) mRNA levels and all the biochemical indices of iron that we measured. Furthermore, IL-10 mRNA was higher in parasite blood smear-positive children than in blood smear-negative children irrespective of their iron status. This study suggests that IL-4 expression by PBMC may be affected by iron status.