Volume 53, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



To investigate the mechanisms underlying the increased susceptibility to malaria in pregnant women, we determined the level of malaria-specific immunity in primigravidae. Humoral and cellular in vitro responses to unpurified (a crude schizont extract and a gametocyte preparation) and purified (affinity-purified Pf155/ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen [RESA]) proteins, an immunodominant 45/47-kilodalton antigen from , and leucoagglutinin were compared between 52 primigravidae and 52 nonpregnant women from a semirural area of Cameroon. In vitro cellular responses were investigated in terms of lymphocyte proliferation, as well as production of interleukin-2 (IL-2), interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), and IL-4. Cells from primigravidae exhibited a reduced proliferative response to schizont and gametocyte antigens, as well as to the antigen. Conversely, the IL-2 response to Pf155/RESA was reduced. Interleukin-4 and IFN-γ production did not appear to be affected in primigravidae. Antibody levels were also similar between pregnant and nonpregnant women. Our results underline the importance of examining several parameters of T cell activation with different types of antigens for a correct evaluation of the ability of lymphocytes to respond to malaria.


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