By using erythropoietin-dependent proliferation of splenic erythroid cells as an in vitro erythropoiesis model system, we demonstrate that spleen cells from Plasmodium chabaudi AS-infected C57BL/6 mice potently inhibited erythroid cell proliferation. Inhibitory activity was detected in spleen cell conditioned media (SPCM) prepared from infected mice but not from uninfected mice. The inhibitory activity in SPCM was characterized as being heat sensitive, macromolecular, and host derived. The inhibitory activity was not reversed by increasing the erythropoietin concentration and was found to be specific for the late erythroid lineage. Mouse strains, which differ in their resistance to P. chabaudi AS infection, produced and responded to the inhibitory activity to a similar extent. Putative immune mediators, interleukin 1 alpha, interleukin 1 beta, and gamma interferon, were found to be potent inhibitors of erythroid cell proliferation. However, antibody neutralization experiments failed to demonstrate a major role for these cytokines in the inhibitory activity of SPCM. Our results suggest that the elaboration of inhibitor(s) of erythropoiesis in hemopoietic organs of Plasmodium-infected mice may impair erythroid regeneration. The identity of the inhibitory mediator(s) is presently unknown but is distinct from interleukin 1, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and gamma interferon
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