A longitudinal investigation of IgG and IgM antibody responses to the merozoite surface protein-1 19-kiloDalton domain of Plasmodium falciparum in pregnant women and infants: associations with febrile illness, parasitemia, and anemia.

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  • 1 Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
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This study was aimed at delineating characteristics of naturally acquired immunity against the merozoite surface antigen-1 (MSP-1) of Plasmodium falciparum, a candidate malaria vaccine antigen. A case/control study was performed on 75 case/control pairs of infants with febrile illness at the time of the first detected infection indicating a clinical case. The presence and level of antibodies at one month prior to the first infection and at the time of the first infection in the afebrile group was significantly higher than in the febrile group. Decreased parasite density and decreased infection-related loss of hemoglobin was seen in infants with anti-MSP-1(19kD) IgG antibodies. In addition, mothers who were positive for the presence of these antibodies conferred protection against placental infection and infection in their infants. In this study, development of anti-MSP-1(19kD) antibody responses in 24 infants were studied longitudinally using monthly serum samples collected from birth until approximately one year of age. In addition, umbilical cord blood sera and respective mothers' sera were analyzed. Longitudinal studies of antibody responses revealed several short-lived IgG and IgM peaks throughout an infant's first year that correlated with detection of parasitemia. The protection against parasitemia and febrile illness was observed in infants when anti-MSP-1(19kD) antibodies were present; when infants were negative for IgG, they had a 10-times greater risk of becoming parasitemic. These data from a longitudinal and prospective study of malaria suggest a protective role for anti-MSP-1(19kD) antibodies in infants and pregnant women.