Immune responses against Plasmodium falciparum asexual blood-stage antigens and disease susceptibility in Gabonese and Cameroonian children.

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  • 1 Centre International de Recherches Médicales de Franceville, Gabon.
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The frequency and level of cellular and humoral responses to seven synthetic peptides from asexual blood stages of Plasmodium falciparum were measured in two cohorts of children living in areas highly endemic for malaria in Gabon and Cameroon. A prospective longitudinal study was conducted for one year in these sites to examine the relationship between specific in vitro immune responses and susceptibility to clinical malaria. Clinical protection was related to high proliferative responses (merozoite surface antigen-1 [MSA-1] and MSA-2 peptides) as well as to elevated antibody levels (schizont extract, MSA-2, and rhoptry-associated protein-1 [RAP-1] peptides) in the village of Dienga, Gabon. Higher response rates of interferon-gamma but lower response rates of tumor necrosis factor-alpha to four and six peptides, respectively, were observed in Dienga than in Pouma that were independent of the older age of the Gabonese children. Age accounted only for the higher prevalence rate in Dienga of the antibody responders to the peptide from Pf155/ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen (RESA). Our results support the inclusion of epitopes from MSA-1, MSA-2, RAP-1, and Pf155/RESA antigens in a subunit vaccine against malaria, but show that a longitudinal clinical, parasitologic, and immunologic study conducted according to identical criteria in two separate areas may lead to contrasting observations, demonstrating the geographic limitation of the interpretation of such results.