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Investigators studied 348 children age 0–10 years, living in a holoendemic area of Liberia, for parasitological, serological and clinical parameters.
The age-specific parasite rate increased towards the 7–10 year-old age group in which it was 86.8%. The geometrical mean parasite density decreased from the 3–4 year-old age group, in which fewer episodes of clinical malaria were observed.
Antibodies to crude Plasmodium falciparum parasite antigens were detected in all children. The (EENV)6 seropositive rate was a maximum of 67.9% in the 3–11 month-old age group. It declined to a minimum of 31.7% in the 5–6 years age group after which it increased slowly in the 7–10 years age group. Antibodies to the synthetic peptide (NANP)6 showed a steady seropositive rate after the age of 3 months, between 30.0% and 39.3% in all the age groups up to 10 years. No statistically significant correlation was found between seropositivity to (EENV)6 and malarial parasitemia. In contrast, a statistically significant positive correlation was found between seropositivity to (NANP)6 and parasite rates.
The antibody response for the individual child was transient to both Pf155/RESA, measured by immunofluorescence, and to (EENV)6 and (NANP)6, measured by ELISA, especially in the younger age groups of this study population.
Parasitological and clinical immunity developed before a stable antibody response to these defined malaria antigens was established. These antibodies may still contribute to the immune protection against malaria, but they were not reliable parameters for protective immunity in the population we studied.