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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 27;8(6):e67230. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067230. Print 2013.

Changes in B Cell Populations and Merozoite Surface Protein-1-Specific Memory B Cell Responses after Prolonged Absence of Detectable P. falciparum Infection.

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1
Maseno University, Maseno, Kenya.

Abstract

Clinical immunity to malaria declines in the absence of repeated parasite exposure. However, little is known about how B cell populations and antigen-specific memory B cells change in the absence of P. falciparum infection. A successful indoor residual insecticide spraying campaign in a highland area of western Kenya, led to an absence of blood-stage P. falciparum infection between March 2007 and April 2008. We assessed memory B cell responses in 45 adults at the beginning (April 2008) and end (April 2009) of a subsequent 12-month period during which none of the adults had evidence of asymptomatic parasitemia or clinical disease. Antibodies and memory B cells to the 42-kDa portion of the merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP-142) were measured using ELISA and ELISPOT assays, respectively. B cell populations were characterized by flow cytometry. From 2008 to 2009, the prevalence of MSP-142-specific memory B cells (45% vs. 55%, respectively, P = 0.32) or antibodies (91% vs. 82%, respectively, P = 0.32) did not differ significantly, although specific individuals did change from positive to negative and vice versa, particularly for memory B cells, suggesting possible low-level undetected parasitemia may have occurred in some individuals. The magnitude of MSP-142-specific memory B cells and levels of antibodies to MSP-142 also did not differ from 2008 to 2009 (P>0.10 for both). However, from 2008 to 2009 the proportions of both class-switched atypical (CD19+IgD-CD27-CD21-IgM-) and class-switched activated (CD19+IgD-CD27+CD21-IgM-) memory B cells decreased (both P<0.001). In contrast, class-switched resting classical memory B cells (CD19+IgD-CD27+CD21+IgM-) increased (P<0.001). In this area of seasonal malaria transmission, a one- year absence of detectable P. falciparum infection was not associated with changes in the prevalence or level of MSP-142 specific memory B cells, but was associated with major changes in overall memory B cell subsets.

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