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Nature. 2002 Aug 15;418(6899):785-9.

Synthetic GPI as a candidate anti-toxic vaccine in a model of malaria.

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Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Post Office, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria 3050, Australia.


The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum infects 5-10% of the world's population and kills two million people annually. Fatalities are thought to result in part from pathological reactions initiated by a malarial toxin. Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) originating from the parasite has the properties predicted of a toxin; however, a requirement for toxins in general and GPI in particular in malarial pathogenesis and fatality remains unproven. As anti-toxic vaccines can be highly effective public health tools, we sought to determine whether anti-GPI vaccination could prevent pathology and fatalities in the Plasmodium berghei/rodent model of severe malaria. The P. falciparum GPI glycan of the sequence NH(2)-CH(2)-CH(2)-PO(4)-(Man alpha 1-2)6Man alpha 1-2Man alpha 1-6Man alpha 1-4GlcNH(2)alpha 1-6myo-inositol-1,2-cyclic-phosphate was chemically synthesized, conjugated to carriers, and used to immunize mice. Recipients were substantially protected against malarial acidosis, pulmonary oedema, cerebral syndrome and fatality. Anti-GPI antibodies neutralized pro-inflammatory activity by P. falciparum in vitro. Thus, we show that GPI is a significant pro-inflammatory endotoxin of parasitic origin, and that several disease parameters in malarious mice are toxin-dependent. GPI may contribute to pathogenesis and fatalities in humans. Synthetic GPI is therefore a prototype carbohydrate anti-toxic vaccine against malaria.

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