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Adv Parasitol. 2013;81:77-131. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-407826-0.00003-5.

Natural acquisition of immunity to Plasmodium vivax: epidemiological observations and potential targets.

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  • 1Walter + Eliza Hall Institute, Infection & Immunity Division, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


Population studies show that individuals acquire immunity to Plasmodium vivax more quickly than Plasmodium falciparum irrespective of overall transmission intensity, resulting in the peak burden of P. vivax malaria in younger age groups. Similarly, actively induced P. vivax infections in malaria therapy patients resulted in faster and generally more strain-transcending acquisition of immunity than P. falciparum infections. The mechanisms behind the more rapid acquisition of immunity to P. vivax are poorly understood. Natural acquired immune responses to P. vivax target both pre-erythrocytic and blood-stage antigens and include humoral and cellular components. To date, only a few studies have investigated the association of these immune responses with protection, with most studies focussing on a few merozoite antigens (such as the Pv Duffy binding protein (PvDBP), the Pv reticulocyte binding proteins (PvRBPs), or the Pv merozoite surface proteins (PvMSP1, 3 & 9)) or the circumsporozoite protein (PvCSP). Naturally acquired transmission-blocking (TB) immunity (TBI) was also found in several populations. Although limited, these data support the premise that developing a multi-stage P. vivax vaccine may be feasible and is worth pursuing.

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