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Optimizing Direct Membrane and Direct Skin Feeding Assays for Plasmodium falciparum Transmission-Blocking Vaccine Trials in Bancoumana, Mali

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  • 1 Malaria Research and Training Center, ICER-MALI-USTTB-NIAID/NIH, Bamako, Mali;
  • | 2 Biostatistics Research Branch, NIAID/NIH, Bethesda, Maryland;
  • | 3 Laboratory of Malaria Immunology and Vaccinology, NIAID/NIH, Bethesda, Maryland;
  • | 4 Abt Associates Inc., Monrovia, Liberia;
  • | 5 PATH-Malaria Vaccine Initiative, Washington, District of Columbia

Malaria transmission-blocking vaccines (TBV) have been evaluated in field trials in Mali since 2013. However, the assays currently used to measure serum antibody TB activity (TBA) after vaccination are highly variable, in part due to the lack of optimization and standardization for field assays in which mosquitoes feed on gametocytemic blood. Herein, we report a study conducted in Bancoumana village, Mali, where we identify and optimize the parameters that contribute to successful mosquito feeding outcomes in both direct skin feeds (DSFs) and direct membrane feeding assays (DMFA). These parameters include: 1) mosquito age, 2) duration of mosquito starvation prior to feeding, 3) membrane selection for DMFA, 4) anatomical location of DSF feeding (arm, calf, and ankle), and 5) time of day for DSF (dawn or dusk). We found that younger mosquitoes were significantly associated with higher feeding, survival, and infection rates. Longer starvation times were positively, but not significantly, associated with higher infection rates, but were negatively associated with feeding and survival. Membrane type and body location did not affect infection outcome significantly. Although dusk was found to be associated with higher infection rates, this may be confounded by the time from positive blood smear. Based on these findings, we make specific recommendations for optimal feeding parameters in the different assay types to maximize the chance of detecting parasite transmission in a standardized manner.

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Author Notes

Address correspondence to Mamadou B. Coulibaly, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Malaria Research and Training Center, University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako, Bamako, Mali. E-mail: doudou@icermali.org

Authors’ addresses: Mamadou B. Coulibaly, Youssouf Sinaba, Daman Sylla, Adama Sacko, Lakamy Sylla, Boubacar Coulibaly, Ibrahima Baber, Mahamadoun H. Assadou, Issaka Sagara, Ogobara Doumbo, and Sekou F. Traore, University of Sciences, Techniques and Technology of Bamako, Malaria Research and Training Center, Bamako, ML, E-mails: doudou@icermali.org, ysinaba@icermali.org, dsylla@icermali.org, asacko@icermali.org, lsylla@icermali.org, bcoulibaly@icermali.org, baber@mrtcbko.org, mmaiga@icermali.org, isagara@icermali.org, okd@icermali.org, and cheick@icermali.org. Erin E. Gabriel, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Biostatistics Research Branch, Rockville, MD, E-mail: erin.gabriel@nih.gov. Jen C. C. Hume, Sara A. Healy, and Patrick E. Duffy, National Institutes of Health, Laboratory of Malaria Immunology and Vaccinology, Rockville, MD, E-mails: jennifer.hume@nih.gov, sara.healy@nih.gov, and patrick.duffy@nih.gov. Yimin Wu, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Laboratory of Malaria Immunology and Vaccinology, Rockville, MD and PATH, Malaria Vaccine Initiative, Washington, DC, E-mail: ywu@path.org.

Financial support: This study was sponsored by the NIAID/NIH intramural research program, and by the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.

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