Infection with the malaria parasite, Plasmodium, is characterized by excessive inflammation. The establishment of a precise balance between the pro- and anti-inflammatory responses is critical to guarantee control of the parasite and survival of the host. IL-10, a key regulatory cytokine produced by many cells of the immune system, has been shown to protect mice against pathology during acute Plasmodium chabaudi chabaudi AS model of malaria. However, the critical cellular source of IL-10 is still unknown. In this article, we demonstrate that T cell-derived IL-10 is necessary for the control of pathology during acute malaria, as mice bearing specific deletion of Il10 in T cells fully reproduce the phenotype observed in Il10 -/- mice, with significant weight loss, decline in temperature, and increased mortality. Furthermore, we show that IFN-γ + Th1 cells are the main producers of IL-10 throughout acute infection, expressing high levels of CD44 and ICOS, and low levels of CD127. Although Foxp3 + regulatory CD4 + T cells produce IL-10 during infection, highly activated IFN-γ + Th1 cells were shown to be the essential and sufficient source of IL-10 to guarantee protection against severe immune-mediated pathology. Finally, in this model of malaria, we demonstrate that the generation of protective IL10 +IFN-γ + Th1 cells is dependent on IL-27 signaling and independent of IL-21.
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