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Hemoglobin C is the second most common structural hemoglobinopathy in Africa, and carriers have a reduced risk of severe malaria. However, the effect of HbAC on the antibody response to malaria antigens in pregnancy has not been studied. Here, we measured PfEMP1-specific antibodies in plasma samples from 74 Beninese pregnant women with either HbAA or HbAC. IgG-mediated inhibition of VAR2CSA+ infected erythrocytes adhesion to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA) was also tested. PfEMP1-specific IgG levels to VAR2CSA were significantly lower in HbAC women, suggesting less exposure to VAR2CSA. In contrast, the percentage of VAR2CSA+-infected erythrocytes adhesion to CSA was not different between HbAA and HbAC women. Moreover, IgG levels to PfEMP1 variants associated with severe malaria were not significantly different between groups. The findings indicate similar exposure to Plasmodium falciparum parasites expressing PfEMP1 variants causing severe malaria, and justify more comprehensive studies of hemoglobinopathy-related qualitative and quantitative differences in PfEMP1-specific antibody responses.
Financial support: This work was funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research (grant 0134-00123B) to L. H. Sample collection in Benin was part of the STOPPAM collaborative project. N. T. N. was supported by the European 7th Framework Programme (grant 200889). J. D. was supported by a PhD studentship from Institut de Recherche pour le Développement.
Authors’ addresses: Mary Lopez-Perez and Lars Hviid, Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, E-mails: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Firmine Viwami, UMR 261 MERIT, Université de Paris, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Paris, France, E-mail: email@example.com. Justin Doritchamou, Laboratory of Malaria Immunology & Vaccinology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Nicaise Tuikue Ndam, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana, E-mail: email@example.com.