Spleen macrophages from Plasmodium berghei-infected mice are more efficient in the ingestion of parasitized reticulocytes than spleen macrophages obtained from normal animals. Other indications of spleen macrophage activation detected during malarial infection are enhanced macrophage spreading and increased phagocytosis of opsonized and nonopsonized sheep erythrocytes (E). Peritoneal macrophages are not activated to a significant degree. The appearance of antibodies directed against Forssman antigen, but not to other erythrocyte antigens, is also a feature of this infection and explains the ingestion of unsensitized E by spleen macrophages of the diseased animals. The recognition and ingestion of parasitized reticulocytes by infected mice in mediated by cold-agglutinin type immunoglobulins that appear during P. berghei infection and can be blocked by the Fc-binding protein A from Staphylococcus aureus. In advanced stages of the disease, the serum of infected animals inhibits phagocytosis, probably because of the high level of circulating immune complexes. Thus, the clearance of malaria parasites is regulated by several elements of the immune system, in addition to levels of specific antimerozoite antibodies, including the amount of antibodies bound to reticulocytes, the presence of circulating immune complexes, and the degree of macrophage stimulation.

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