ABSTRACT Background: Drug resistance in malaria warrants the need for alternative therapy from plant food nutrients. The search for novel anti-malarial control spurred a great interest in cocoa which has been portrayed as immune booster against malaria. This study was geared towards estimation of CD4+ cells of P. berghei infected mice treated with cocoa powder extract (CPE) to provide substantive scientific evidence to authenticate the anecdotal report.Methods: Brine shrimp toxicity assay was done to determine LC50 of crude cocoa powder extract. The mice were infected with 1×107 of ANKA and NK65 strains of Plasmodium berghei intraperitoneally, while graded doses of the extract were administered by an intra-gastric intubation based on the body weight of mice. Blood samples were analyzed for microscopy and flow cytometry for CD4+ cell counts.Results: The onset of infection was delayed in the group treated before inoculations on day3 and the level of P.berghei parasitemia was positively associated with induction of CD4+ cells while the negative control group that received normal saline had progressive increase of parasitemia. The mean survival time could not go beyond day14 in ANKA, though both strains responded to CPE in a similar way with chloroquine as a positive control. The CD4+ cells counted increased in both strains treated before and during inoculations and the episodes of malaria was suppressed compared with the control. Conclusion: This study has demonstrated that the antiplasmodial activity of CPE was associated with the level of CD4+ T-cells proliferation which initiated the protective immune response. This therefore calls for efforts to ensure adequate intake of cocoa powder to boost immunity against malaria.
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