Genetic susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus protects against cerebral malaria in mice

Laboratories of Immunogenetics, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD 20852, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 01/2011; 108(3):1122-7. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1017996108
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Plasmodium falciparum has exerted tremendous selective pressure on genes that improve survival in severe malarial infections. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that is six to eight times more prevalent in women of African descent than in women of European descent. Here we provide evidence that a genetic susceptibility to SLE protects against cerebral malaria. Mice that are prone to SLE because of a deficiency in FcγRIIB or overexpression of Toll-like receptor 7 are protected from death caused by cerebral malaria. Protection appears to be by immune mechanisms that allow SLE-prone mice better to control their overall inflammatory responses to parasite infections. These findings suggest that the high prevalence of SLE in women of African descent living outside of Africa may result from the inheritance of genes that are beneficial in the immune control of cerebral malaria but that, in the absence of malaria, contribute to autoimmune disease.

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