High Frequency of Antibody Response to Plasmodium falciparum Gametocyte Antigens during Acute Malaria Infections in Papua New Guinea Highlanders

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  • Queensland Institute of Medical Research, University of Edinburgh, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Nijmegen, Herston, Brisbane, Australia

Sera from 62 adult Papua New Guinea highlanders with suspected acute malaria were tested by competitive ELISA for the presence of antibodies capable of inhibiting binding of 8 monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) directed against epitopes on gametocytes of Plasmodium falciparum. Between 33% and 72% of the malaria cases were inhibitory, depending on the Mab. There was no difference between the proportion of persons with P. falciparum (asexuals or gametocytes) and P. vivax whose sera inhibited Mab binding, but all 3 categories had a significantly higher proportion of inhibitors than persons who were malaria negative. The amount of gametocyte antibody recognizing epitopes on Pfs 48/45 and Pfs 230 increased with increasing numbers of previous malaria episodes. The proportion of sera from these relatively nonimmune adults which had gamete antibodies was similar to the proportion seen in sera from a highly endemic area, suggesting that antibody responses to these epitopes are a part of the initial response observed after a limited number of malaria episodes.