Volume 58, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


The humoral immune response against synthetic peptides of two Plasmodium falciparum blood-stage antigens, Pf155/ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen (RESA) (EENV)6 and Pf332 (SVTEEIAEEDK)2, in individuals belonging to three sympatric ethnic groups (Mossi, Rimaibe, and Fulani) living in the same conditions of hyperendemic transmission in a Sudan savanna area northeast of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso were examined. The Mossi and Rimaibe are Sudanese Negroid populations with a long tradition of sedentary farming, while the Fulani are nomadic pastoralists partly settled and characterized by non-Negroid features of possible Caucasoid origin. A total of 764 subjects (311 Mossi, 273 Rimaibe, and 180 Fulani) were tested. A lower P. falciparum prevalence was observed in the Fulani of all age groups. The serologic results clearly indicate the existence of interethnic differences in the capacity to respond to these two P. falciparum antigens. The Mossi and Rimaibe showed similar responses, whereas the Fulani displayed consistently higher prevalences and levels of antibodies against both epitopes tested. The anti-(EENV)6 and anti-(SVTEEIAEEDK)2 seroprevalences were 29.9% and 38.9% in Mossi, 29.7% and 39.2% in Rimaibe, 86.1% and 76.1% in Fulani (all P values of Fulani-Mossi and Fulani-Rimaibe comparisons < 0.001). Anti-RESA and anti-Pf332 antibody levels were approximately 65% (P < 0.001) and 45% (P < 0.001), respectively, higher in seropositive Fulani than in seropositive Mossi and Rimaibe, who showed very similar values. The observed differences cannot be explained in terms of interethnic heterogeneity of malaria exposure since these communities have lived in the same area for more than 30 years and the P. falciparum inoculation rate, measured during two consecutive years, was substantially uniform for the three ethnic groups. The possibility of remarkable heterogeneities in the capacity to mount immune responses against P. falciparum antigens among populations with different genetic backgrounds must be taken into account in the development of anti-malaria vaccines.


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