Parasitized Erythrocyte Membrane Antigens of Plasmodium brasilianum: Relationships with the Ring-Infected Erythrocyte Surface Antigen of Plasmodium falciparum

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  • Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia

An antigen, designated here as the parasitized erythrocyte membrane antigen (PEMA), is present in the erythrocyte membrane surrounding all intraerythrocytic stages of Plasmodium brasilianum. An antibody specific for PEMA appeared in 21 (50%) of 42 antisera from Saimiri sciureus monkeys naturally infected with P. brasilianum. Of these 42 sera, nine (21.4%) contained antibody to the ring-infected erythrocyte membrane antigen (RESA); of these nine sera, six did not react with PEMA. Sera of humans infected with P. malariae reacted with PEMA and RESA in a similar pattern; i.e., of 83 antisera, 71 (85.5%) reacted with PEMA and 30 (36%) reacted with RESA. Only one of these latter 30 sera were not reactive with PEMA. Of 167 sera from humans infected with P. falciparum but not P. malariae, 133 (79.6%) reacted with RESA; of these, 43 (25.7% of the total) reacted with PEMA but not RESA. Although PEMA was demonstrated with P. brasilianum and RESA with P. falciparum, neither PEMA or RESA could be demonstrated with P. malariae. Interactions of PEMA and RESA and the corresponding antibodies offer a method whereby the two morphologically similar quartan species, P. malariae and P. brasilianum, can be readily distinguished from each other and may furnish clues to genetic separation of the two and the mechanisms of interaction of quartan malaria and P. falciparum where they are coendemic.