CD4 T cell-dependent antibody responses are essential for limiting Plasmodium parasite replication and the severity of malaria; however, the factors that regulate humoral immunity during highly inflammatory, Th1-biased systemic infections are poorly understood. Using genetic and biochemical approaches, we show that Plasmodium infection-induced type I interferons limit T follicular helper accumulation and constrain anti-malarial humoral immunity. Mechanistically we show that CD4 T cell-intrinsic type I interferon signaling induces T-bet and Blimp-1 expression, thereby promoting T regulatory 1 responses. We further show that the secreted effector cytokines of T regulatory 1 cells, IL-10 and IFN-γ, collaborate to restrict T follicular helper accumulation, limit parasite-specific antibody responses, and diminish parasite control. This circuit of interferon-mediated Blimp-1 induction is also operational during chronic virus infection and can occur independently of IL-2 signaling. Thus, type I interferon-mediated induction of Blimp-1 and subsequent expansion of T regulatory 1 cells represent generalizable features of systemic, inflammatory Th1-biased viral and parasitic infections that are associated with suppression of humoral immunity.
Humoral immunity is essential for host resistance to pathogens that trigger highly inflammatory immune responses, including Plasmodium parasites, the causative agents of malaria. Long-lived, secreted antibody responses depend on a specialized subset of CD4 T cells called T follicular helper (Tfh) cells. However, anti- Plasmodium humoral immunity is often short-lived, non-sterilizing, and immunity rapidly wanes, leaving individuals susceptible to repeated bouts of malaria. Here we explored the relationship between inflammatory type I interferons, the regulation of pathogen-specific CD4 T cell responses, and humoral immunity using models of experimental malaria and systemic virus infection. We identified that type I interferons promote the formation and accumulation of pathogen-specific CD4 T regulatory 1 cells that co-express interferon-gamma and interleukin-10. Moreover, we show that the combined activity of interferon-gamma and interleukin-10 limits the magnitude of infection-induced Tfh responses, the secretion of parasite-specific secreted antibody, and parasite control. Our study provides new insight into the regulation of T regulatory 1 responses and humoral immunity during inflammatory immune reactions against systemic infections.