Parasitologic and Clinical Human Response to Immunoglobulin Administration in Falciparum Malaria

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  • Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Centre Regional de Transfusion Sanguine, Centre de Transfusion Sanguine, Centre de Transfusion Sanguine, Hopital de la Salpetriere, Laboratoire de Parasitologie Medicale, Institut Pasteur, Bangkok, Thailand

The protective effect of African IgG antibodies against Plasmodium falciparum malaria was investigated by passive transfer in Thai patients. Sera from 333 African adults were collected in the Cote d'Ivoire and subjected to extensive screening. One hundred fifty-three samples were discarded for safety reasons, and IgG was extracted from those remaining under conditions allowing their use by the intravenous (iv) route.

Eight Thai patients with P. falciparum parasitemia were treated by iv inoculation of the IgG: six with a 100 mg/kg dose given over three days, one with a single 20 mg/kg dose, and one with a single 200 mg/kg dose. To ensure a safety margin of at least 48 hours, subjects were chosen among patients having a recrudescent parasitemia following quinine treatment failure at the RI level. At that stage, symptoms were mild or absent and parasitemia was low but increasing (range 4, 200–9,000/µl).

The IgG pool exerted a profound, stage-specific, but non-sterilizing effect on each of the strains tested, and proved to be safe. Asexual parasitemia decreased by a mean 728-fold (range 46–1,086), while gametocytes were unaffected. Clearance of parasites and symptoms was as fast or faster than with drugs, and was consistent in the eight patients treated, suggesting that target antigens were equally expressed in geographically remote isolates. In peripheral blood smears, no mature forms were seen at any time during the followup, which does not support the hypothesis that reversal of cytoadherence occurred.

After the disappearance of the transferred antibodies, recrudescent parasites from three patients were found to be susceptible to the same extent (mean decrease of 1,310-fold) to the same IgG preparation, indicating that selection of parasites able to escape the effect of antibodies had not occurred. No adverse side-effects were detected during the followup, which lasted one year.