In vivo imaging of CD8+ T cell-mediated elimination of malaria liver stages

Ian A. Cockburn, Rogerio Amino, Reka K. Kelemen, Scot C. Kuo, Sze Wah Tse, Andrea Radtke, Laura Mac-Daniel, Vitaly V. Ganusov, Fidel Zavala*, Robert Ménard

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    108 Citations (Scopus)


    CD8+ T cells are specialized cells of the adaptive immune system capable of finding and eliminating pathogen-infected cells. To date it has not been possible to observe the destruction of any pathogen by CD8+ T cells in vivo. Here we demonstrate a technique for imaging the killing of liver-stage malaria parasites by CD8+ T cells bearing a transgenic T cell receptor specific for a parasite epitope. We report several features that have not been described by in vitro analysis of the process, chiefly the formation of large clusters of effector CD8+ T cells around infected hepatocytes. The formation of clusters requires antigen-specific CD8+ T cells and signaling by G protein-coupled receptors, although CD8+ T cells of unrelated specificity are also recruited to clusters. By combining mathematical modeling and data analysis, we suggest that formation of clusters is mainly driven by enhanced recruitment of T cells into larger clusters. We further show various death phenotypes of the parasite, which typically follow prolonged interactions between infected hepatocytes and CD8+ T cells. These findings stress the need for intravital imaging for dissecting the fine mechanisms of pathogen recognition and killing by CD8+ T cells.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9090-9095
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number22
    Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2013


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