Immune Response of Humans to the Circumsporozoite Protein of Plasmodium falciparum: Limited T Cell Response to the Immunodominant Central Repeat Region

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  • * Infectious Diseases Department, Naval Medical Research Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-5055
  • | U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2, Jakarta Detachment, APO San Francisco, California 96356
  • | Department of Immunology, Ministry of Health Research and Development, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • | § Smith, Kline and French Laboratories, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19101
  • | U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2, Manila, APO San Francisco, California 96528

Most adults in highly malarious areas have antibodies to the repeat region of the circumsporozoite protein of Plasmodium falciparum. To determine if a T cell epitope on the repeat region stimulated T cell help for this antibody, we used R32tet32, a recombinant construct derived from the repeat region of the circumsporozoite protein of P. falciparum, to stimulate in vitro mononuclear cells from residents of an area hyperendemic for malaria. Three groups differing in the length of time they had resided in a malarious area were studied. The percentage of individuals in each group who had positive antibody responses to R32tet32 increased with increased exposure to malaria. However, antibody positivity was not correlated with in vitro lymphocyte proliferation responses to the antigen. Lymphocytes from 79% of the individuals showing serum antibodies to R32tet32 failed to respond in a lymphocyte transformation assay, suggesting that T cell helper activity in these individuals was based upon the recognition of a T cell epitope not located within this peptide.