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London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Malaria Centre

Malaria research in immunology and vaccination

The dynamics of malaria-specific antibody responses in relation to microscopic and submicroscopic Plasmodium falciparum infections.

LSHTM investigators:
Carla Proietti, Federica Verra, Michael Bretscher, Patrick Corran, Eleanor Riley, Teun Bousema & Chris Drakeley.
External collaborators:
Andrea Crisanti (Imperial College London, UK); Raffaele Ronca & Bruno Arca (Federico II University, Italy); Bernard Kanoi, Betty Balikagala & Tomas Egwang (Medical Biotech Laboratories, Uganda).
Funding body:
European Comission-FP7 Marie Curie Actions.

Understanding of the dynamics of antibody responses against malaria infection, and in particular, the effect of immune boosting on the acquisition and maintenance of naturally acquired immunity, is essential for the interpretation of findings from cross-sectional and even longitudinal studies.

We examined the effect of microscopic and sub-microscopic malaria infections on malaria-specific antibody acquisition and explore the dynamics of antibody responses in relation to malaria infections in longitudinal cohorts from high endemic area of Apac, Uganda.

500 individuals were selected (250 <5years, 125 <10years, and 125 adults) and followed throughout the transmission season. At three time-points, plasma was collected and antibody responses against P. falciparum AMA1, MSP-1, MSP-2 and CSP and Anopheles-specific gSG6 were determined. Antibody responses against all antigens were associated with current submicroscopic infections with P. falciparum. Individuals with no parasites had the lowest antibody levels but no difference was seen in antibody levels between individuals with patent or submicroscopic infections. This suggest that in this endemic setting, low density infections are important for maintaining antibody levels.