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Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1992;87 Suppl 3:413-22.

Protection of Aotus monkeys after immunization with recombinant antigens of Plasmodium falciparum.

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  • 1Behringwerke AG, Research Laboratories, Marburg, Germany.


The genus Aotus spp. (owl monkey) is one of the WHO recommended experimental models for Plasmodium falciparum blood stage infection, especially relevant for vaccination studies with asexual blood stage antigens of this parasite. For several immunization trials with purified recombinant merozoite/schizont antigens, the susceptible Aotus karyotypes II, III, IV and VI were immunized with Escherichia coli derived fusion proteins containing partial sequences of the proteins MSAI (merozoite surface antigen I), SERP (serine-stretch protein) and HRPII (histidine alanine rich protein II) as well as with a group of recombinant antigens obtained by an antiserum raised against a protective 41 kD protein band. The subcutaneous application (3x) of the antigen preparations was carried out in intact animals followed by splenectomy prior to challenge, in order to increase the susceptibility of the experimental hosts to the parasite. A partial sequence of HRPII, the combination of three different fusion proteins of the 41 kD group and a mixture of two sequences of SERP in the presence of a modified Al(OH)3 adjuvant conferred significant protection against a challenge infection with P. falciparum blood stages (2-5 x 10(6)) i. RBC). Monkeys immunized with the MS2-fusion protein carrying the N-terminal part of the 195 kD precursor of the major merozoite surface antigens induced only marginal protection showing some correlation between antibody titer and degree of parasitaemia. Based on the protective capacity of these recombinant antigens we have expressed two hybrid proteins (MS2/SERP/HRPII and SERP/MSAI/HRPII) in E. coli containing selected partial sequences of SERP, HRPII and MSAI. Antibodies raised against both hybrid proteins in rabbits and Aotus monkeys recognize the corresponding schizont polypeptides. In two independent immunization trials using 13 animals (age 7 months to 3 years) we could show that immunization of Aotus monkeys with either of the two hybrid proteins administered in an oil-based well tolerated formulation protected the animals from a severe experimental P. falciparum (strain Palo Alto) infection.

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