Tuberculosis and malaria remain the leading causes of mortality among human infectious diseases in the world. It is estimated that 3 to 5 million people die from tuberculosis and malaria each year. Although it is traditionally believed that CD4 and CD8 alpha-beta T lymphocytes are mandatory for protective immune responses against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Plasmodium falciparum (the ethiologic agents of tuberculosis and the most severe form of malaria, respectively), there is still incomplete understanding of the mechanisms of immune protection and of the causes of its failure in the affected patients. Several studies in humans and animal models have suggested that V gama9 / V delta2 T cells may play an important role in the immune responses against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Plasmodium falciparum. V gama9 / V delta2 T cells represent about 75percent of all circulating gama-delta T cells while they can be greatly expanded during the acute phase of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Plasmodium falciparum malaria. V-gama9 / V delta2 T recognize a new class of antigenic molecules which are nonpeptidic in nature and contain critical phosphate moieties (phosphoantigens). Interestingly, phosphoantigens isolated from Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Plasmodium falciparum share strong structural homology and are probably identical. However, despite a large body of data reported in the literature, it is not yet clear whether V-gama9 / V delta2 T cells play a protective or pathogenic role in immune responses against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Plasmodium falciparum. In this review we summarize our current knowledge of the biology of V-gama9 / V-delta2 T cells in response to the two pathogens, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Plasmodium falciparum, and provide evidence suggesting definition of a novel and important protective role through which V gama9 / V delta2 T cells can contribute to the killing of microorganisms residing in intracellular compartments.
Keywords: Tuberculosis, Malaria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium chabaudi, P.vivax, MURINE MALARIA, Tuberculous meningitis
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