Eosinophil-Rich, Granulomatous Inflammatory Response to Plasmodium Berghei Hepatic Schizonts in Nonimmunized Rats is Age-Related

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  • Department of Medical and Molecular Parasitology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York

Inflammatory responses to Plasmodium hepatic schizonts within the livers of non-immunized animals have long been assumed to be initiated only after the parasites have matured and begun to burst. However, recent reports of inflammatory responses around hepatic schizonts suggested a re-examination of this issue. We injected Norway-Brown rats of various ages intravenously with Plasmodium berghei sporozoites and studied subsequent liver histopathology. We found that the ability of these rats to mount an inflammatory response is age-dependent. Young (4 weeks) rats had weak inflammatory responses against hepatic schizonts, whereas older (8–10 weeks) rats mounted a strong response. Older rats had many granulomatous reactions within the liver; eosinophils represented a pioneer component of the cellular infiltrate. There was a reduction in the numbers of surviving hepatic schizonts in the older rats, suggesting that these granulomatous and eosinophilic reactions had effectively destroyed some of the hepatic schizonts. We found clear evidence of inflammatory cells (eosinophils) infiltrating hepatic schizonts as early as 40 hours post-injection with sporozoites, a time well before any hepatic schizonts could have burst within the liver. This presents histological evidence that inflammatory cells can recognize and infiltrate intact hepatocytes containing schizonts in immunologically naive animals.