Assessment of Age-Dependent Immunity to Malaria in Transmigrants

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  • Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2, Malaria Program, Naval Medical Research Institute, National Institutes of Health Research and Development, Jakarta, Indonesia

Sixty-six Javanese transmigrants moving from Java, an area of very low malaria transmission, to Irian Jaya, an area of high malaria transmission, were monitored to evaluate the effects of exposure to malaria transmission and age on resistance to infection and the induction of humoral immunity. The risk of acquiring Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia was not statistically greater in children (5–15 years of age) than in adults (> 15 years of age) during the first 14 months of exposure. However, during the cross-sectional survey at 14 months of exposure, children did have significantly higher P. falciparum asexual blood-stage parasite densities. Serum antibody titers to R32LR, a peptide containing sequences from the P. falciparum circumsporozoite repeat region, and MSP19, a proteolytic fragment of merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP-1) from P. falciparum, were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Exposure for both six and 14 months produced statistically significant increased antibody titers to both R32LR and MSP-1; no age-dependent difference in antibody titers was observed. In this population, exposure to malaria transmission induced antibodies to antigens associated with immunity to malaria. In addition, we noted an age-dependent difference in the parasitemia density of P. falciparum.