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Clin Exp Immunol. 1994 Aug;97(2):284-92.

IgE elevation and IgE anti-malarial antibodies in Plasmodium falciparum malaria: association of high IgE levels with cerebral malaria.

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Department of Immunology, Stockholm University, Sweden.


In the course of studying immunoregulation in human Plasmodium falciparum malaria we have investigated IgE levels and IgE anti-plasmodial antibodies in children and adults from areas of high malaria endemicity in both Africa and Asia. On average, 85% of all donors had significantly elevated levels of total IgE. A fraction of the IgE had anti-plasmodial activity as revealed by ELISA with lysates of infected erythrocytes as antigen. Using synthetic peptides representing antigenic regions of two major plasmodial blood stage antigens, IgE antibody concentrations ranged from 5 to 15 ng/ml serum for each of the peptides. On average, the concentrations of the corresponding IgG antibodies were x 500-1000 higher. Immunoblotting of parasite lysates showed that most donors had IgE antibodies against one or several of a restricted number of plasmodial polypeptides, with antibodies against an antigen of mol.wt 45 kD already being present in all donors at an early age. Donors having IgE antibodies to particular antigens also frequently had corresponding IgG4 antibodies, reflecting underlying IL-4-dependent cellular mechanisms controlling formation of these isotypes. As infection with other parasites such as helminths is known to induce IgE elevation, the results do not prove that plasmodial infections were the primary cause of IgE induction. However, the importance of plasmodial infection for IgE elevation was supported by the finding of significantly higher levels of IgE, but not of IgG, in children with cerebral malaria compared with patients with uncomplicated disease.

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