A longitudinal study of type-specific antibody responses to Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein-1 in an area of unstable malaria in Sudan

David Cavanagh, I.M. Elhassan, C. Roper, V.J. Robinson, D.E. Arnot, J.S. McBride, H. Giha, L. Hviid, T.G. Theander, A.A. Holder

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Merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP-1) of Plasmodium falciparum is a malaria vaccine candidate Ag. Immunity to MSP-1 has been implicated in protection against infection in animal models. However, MSP-1 is a polymorphic protein and its immune recognition by humans following infection is not well understood. We have compared the immunogenicity of conserved and polymorphic regions of MSP-1, the specificity of Ab responses to a polymorphic region of the Ag, and the duration of these responses in Sudanese villagers intermittently exposed to P. falciparum infections. Recombinant Ags representing the conserved N terminus (Block 1), the conserved C terminus, and the three main types of the major polymorphic region (Block 2) of MSP-1 were used to determine the specificity and longitudinal patterns of IgG Ab responses to MSP-1 in individuals. Abs from 52 donors were assessed before, during, and after malaria transmission seasons for 4 yr. Ags from the Block I region were rarely recognized by any donor. Responses to the C-terminal Ag occurred in the majority of acutely infected individuals and thus were a reliable indicator of recent clinical infection. Ags from the polymorphic Block 2 region of MSP-1 were recognized by many, although not all individuals after clinical malaria infections. Responses to Block 2 were type specific and correlated with PCR typing of parasites present at the time of infection. Responses to all of these Ags declined within a few months of drug treatment and parasite clearance, indicating that naturally induced human Ab responses to MSP-1 are short lived.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-359
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1998

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