According to World Malaria Report 2020, the rate of decline in malaria case incidence and deaths caused by malaria has ceased in latter half of the past decade. Though Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT) is still the major therapeutic approach globally to treat malaria patients, increased resistance of Plasmodium sp. to artemisinin can be looked upon as a major factor responsible for the rate of decline. In the present world, immunotherapeutic approaches are in the limelight to treat several infections, autoimmune disorders, cancers but application of such therapeutic measures in case of malaria are yet not available. Among different immune cells, T-regulatory cells (T-reg) and Th-17 cells and the balance between them, helps in determining the outcome of the immune response in host during both lethal and non-lethal malaria. TGFβ and IL-6 are two major cytokines that play important role in fine tuning the Treg/Th-17 balance by modulating dendritic cell responses, specially by regulating the ratio between myeloid DC and plasmacytoid DC (mDC/pDC). Studies in rodent malaria models have revealed that neutralization of IL-6 by using anti IL-6 monoclonal antibodies in-vivo has been found effective in declining the parasitemia, malaria induced deaths and also in reverting back the altered T-reg/Th-17 balance to normal levels. Apart from these, autophagy is one of the major factors which also contributes to regulate the T-reg/Th-17 balance. In malaria infected mice, autophagy induction has been found to normalise the dysregulated T-reg/Th-17 ratio and promote anti-inflammatory Th-2 pathway by supressing pro-inflammatory Th-1 pathway. So, Treg/Th-17 balance and its associated regulators can be important immunotherapeutic targets for malaria prevention in near future.
Part of the book: Plasmodium Species and Drug Resistance