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Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2013 Aug;20(8):1170-80. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00156-13. Epub 2013 Jun 5.

Acquired antibodies to merozoite antigens in children from Uganda with uncomplicated or severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria.

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Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Malaria can present itself as an uncomplicated or severe disease. We have here studied the quantity and quality of antibody responses against merozoite antigens, as well as multiplicity of infection (MOI), in children from Uganda. We found higher levels of IgG antibodies toward erythrocyte-binding antigen EBA181, MSP2 of Plasmodium falciparum 3D7 and FC27 (MSP2-3D7/FC27), and apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) in patients with uncomplicated malaria by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) but no differences against EBA140, EBA175, MSP1, and reticulocyte-binding protein homologues Rh2 and Rh4 or for IgM against MSP2-3D7/FC27.Patients with uncomplicated malaria were also shown to have higher antibody affinities for AMA1 by surface plasmon resonance (SPR). Decreased invasion of two clinical P. falciparum isolates in the presence of patient plasma correlated with lower initial parasitemia in the patients, in contrast to comparisons of parasitemia to ELISA values or antibody affinities, which did not show any correlations. Analysis of the heterogeneity of the infections revealed a higher MOI in patients with uncomplicated disease, with the P. falciparum K1 MSP1 (MSP1-K1) and MSP2-3D7 being the most discriminative allelic markers. Higher MOIs also correlated positively with higher antibody levels in several of the ELISAs. In conclusion, certain antibody responses and MOIs were associated with differences between uncomplicated and severe malaria. When different assays were combined, some antibodies, like those against AMA1, seemed particularly discriminative. However, only decreased invasion correlated with initial parasitemia in the patient, signaling the importance of functional assays in understanding development of immunity against malaria and in evaluating vaccine candidates.

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