Mechanisms of Splenic Control of Murine Malaria: Cellular Reactions of the Spleen in Lethal (Strain 17XL) Plasmodium Yoelii Malaria in BALB/c Mice, and the Consequences of Pre-Infective Splenectomy

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  • School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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The splenic response in lethal 17XL Plasmodium yoelii murine malaria is vigorous, displaying marked phagocytosis, erythropoiesis, lymphopoiesis, plasmacytopoiesis, and, from day 3 of infection, increasing levels of parasitized erythrocytes. There is also a pronounced response of newly characterized fibroblastic stromal cells which branch and fuse with one another, forming extensive, complex, irregular, syncytial membranous sheets which provide a variety of barriers. Hence, I term these barrier cells (BC), and their fusion results in barrier-forming complexes (BFC). BC form adherent surfaces, trapping parasitized erythrocytes and monocytes-macrophages, facilitating phagocytosis. They envelop single plasma cells, erythrocytes, erythroblasts, lymphocytes, reticulocytes, monocytes-macrophages, or clusters of them. They surround blood vessels, forming blood-spleen barriers. They are insinuated into the circumferential reticulum at the periphery of white pulp, isolating white pulp. They form channels in red pulp, directing blood flow. They are associated with collagen. There appear to be several sources of BC. They may originate by activation of established reticular cells which form the filtration beds, by activation of reticular cells covering the pulp surface of capsule and trabeculae, and as a major source in this malaria, from circulating progenitors entering the splenic pulp from the vasculature. In non-lethal malaria, these barrier systems protect splenic reticulocytes from parasitization. In the lethal 17XL malaria they do not, and there follows a considerable increase in parasitization in the spleen with a corresponding increase in active macrophages. Largescale parasitization and parasite recycling through the great stores of splenic reticulocytes in the lethal malaria, and the failure of parasitization of these splenic reticulocytes reserves on the non-lethal malaria, suggests that the actions of the spleen aggravate the lethal malaria and ameliorate the non-lethal. This is supported by the finding that non-lethal malaria is aggravated and lethal malaria ameliorated by splenectomy.