Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Department of Biology


Chris Lantz


Malaria is a life-threatening mosquito-borne disease caused by parasites of the genus Plasmodium, with about 200 million new cases reported each year. In rodent models of malaria, a variety of immune proteins called cytokines have been noted to either promote or suppress protective immunity. While the cytokine interleukin-3 (IL-3) clearly promotes host defense against some intestinal nematode parasites, few studies have reported a similar function for IL-3 in the pathophysiology of malaria. In this study, we investigated the role of IL-3 in a mouse model of cerebral malaria caused by Plasmodium berghei ANKA. We infected wild-type (WT) and IL-3 deficient (IL-3 KO) mice with P. berghei ANKA and characterized parameters indicative of a protective host response to infection. We found that male IL-3 KO mice generally survived longer than corresponding WT mice, although no differences between blood parasitemia or hematocrit levels were observed between the two genotypes. In addition, male IL-3 KO mice had an increased splenomegaly, and at day 6 p.i. showed less vascular damage in the brain than did corresponding infected WT mice. These findings suggest that IL-3 plays a role in suppressing protective immunity in a mouse model of cerebral malaria.



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