Region II of the 175-kDa erythrocyte-binding antigen (EBA-175RII) of Plasmodium falciparum is functionally important in sialic acid-dependent erythrocyte invasion and is considered a prime target for an invasion-blocking vaccine. The objectives of this study were to (i) determine the prevalence of anti-EBA-175RII antibodies in a naturally exposed population, (ii) determine whether naturally acquired antibodies have a functional role by inhibiting binding of EBA-175RII to erythrocytes, and (iii) determine whether antibodies against EBA-175RII correlate with immunity to clinical malaria. We treated 301 lifelong residents of an area of malaria holoendemicity in western Kenya for malaria, monitored them during a high-transmission season, and identified 33 individuals who were asymptomatic despite parasitemia (clinically immune). We also identified 50 clinically susceptible individuals to serve as controls. These 83 individuals were treated and monitored again during the subsequent low-transmission season. Anti-EBA175RII antibodies were present in 98.7% of the individuals studied. The antibody levels were relatively stable between the beginning and end of the high-transmission season and correlated with the plasma EBA-175RII erythrocyte-binding-inhibitory activity. There was no difference in anti-EBA-175RII levels or plasma EBA-175RII erythrocyte-binding-inhibitory activity between clinically immune and clinically susceptible groups. However, these parameters were higher in nonparasitemic than in parasitemic individuals at enrollment. These results suggest that although antibodies against EBA-175RII may be effective in suppressing some of the wild parasite strains, EBA-175RII is unlikely to be effective as a monovalent vaccine against malaria, perhaps due to allelic heterogeneity and/or presence of sialic acid-independent strains.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases