During the 2013-2016 Ebola virus (EBOV) epidemic, a significant number of patients admitted to Ebola treatment units were co-infected with Plasmodium falciparum, a predominant agent of malaria. However, there is no consensus on how malaria impacts EBOV infection. The effect of acute Plasmodium infection on EBOV challenge was investigated using mouse-adapted EBOV and a biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) model virus. We demonstrate that acute Plasmodium infection protects from lethal viral challenge, dependent upon interferon gamma (IFN-γ) elicited as a result of parasite infection. Plasmodium-infected mice lacking the IFN-γ receptor are not protected. Ex vivo incubation of naive human or mouse macrophages with sera from acutely parasitemic rodents or macaques programs a proinflammatory phenotype dependent on IFN-γ and renders cells resistant to EBOV infection. We conclude that acute Plasmodium infection can safeguard against EBOV by the production of protective IFN-γ. These findings have implications for anti-malaria therapies administered during episodic EBOV outbreaks in Africa.
Kai J Rogers, Olena Shtanko, Rahul Vijay, Laura N Mallinger, Chester J Joyner, Mary R Galinski, Noah S Butler, Wendy Maury. Cell Rep. 2020 Mar 24;30(12):4041-4051.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.02.104.