Background. This study compared patterns of recognition of defined Schistosoma haematobium adult worm antigens by serum antibodies from schistosome-exposed Zimbabweans aged 5-18 years.
Methods. The population was stratified by age and infection intensity into 9 groups within which serum specimens were pooled and used to screen for protein recognition by 2-dimensional Western blotting. Recognized proteins were identified by electrospray ionizing tandem mass spectrometry.
Results. A total of 71 antigens were recognized by >= 1 of the serum pools. The recognition varied distinctly with host age and infection intensity, with some isoform-specific responses. The repertoire of antigens recognized increased with age, peaking in the oldest participants whose had no or mild-to-moderate infection intensity. The intensity of antigen recognition also increased with age, peaking in the oldest participants with the heaviest infection intensity.
Conclusions. The recognition of specific schistosome antigens, both in terms of the diversity of antigens recognized and the intensity of antigen recognition, increased with duration of exposure to infection, supporting the hypothesis that the slow development of schistosome-acquired immunity is due to the slow accumulation of responsiveness to relevant parasite antigens.