Effect of transmission intensity and age on subclass antibody responses to Plasmodium falciparum pre-erythrocytic and blood-stage antigens

Gregory S. Noland, Paul Jansen, John M. Vulule, Gregory S. Park, Bartholomew N. Ondigo, James W. Kazura, Ann M. Moormann, Chandy C. John

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


Cytophilic immunoglobulin (IgG) subclass responses (IgG1 and IgG3) to Plasmodium falciparum antigens have been associated with protection from malaria, yet the relative importance of transmission intensity and age in generation of subclass responses to pre-erythrocytic and blood-stage antigens have not been clearly defined. We analyzed IgG subclass responses to the pre-erythrocytic antigens CSP, LSA-1, and TRAP and the blood-stage antigens AMA-1, EBA-175, and MSP-1 in asymptomatic residents age 2 years or older in stable (n = 116) and unstable (n = 96) transmission areas in Western Kenya. In the area of stable malaria transmission, a high prevalence of cytophilic (IgG1 and IgG3) antibodies to each antigen was seen in all age groups. Prevalence and levels of cytophilic antibodies to pre-erythrocytic and blood-stage P. falciparum antigens increased with age in the unstable transmission area, yet IgG1 and IgG3 responses to most antigens for all ages in the unstable transmission area were less prevalent and lower in magnitude than even the youngest age group from the stable transmission area. The dominance of cytophilic responses over non-cytophilic (IgG2 and IgG4) was more pronounced in the stable transmission area, and the ratio of IgG3 over IgG1 generally increased with age. In the unstable transmission area, the ratio of cytophilic to non-cytophilic antibodies did not increase with age, and tended to be IgG3-biased for pre-erythrocytic antigens yet IgG1-biased for blood-stage antigens. The differences between areas could not be attributed to active parasitemia status, as there were minimal differences in antibody responses between those positive and negative for Plasmodium infection by microscopy in the stable transmission area. Individuals in areas of unstable transmission have low cytophilic to non-cytophilic IgG subclass ratios and low IgG3:IgG1 ratios to P. falciparum antigens. These imbalances could contribute to the persistent risk of clinical malaria in these areas and serve as population-level, age-specific biomarkers of transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-56
Number of pages10
JournalActa Tropica
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibodies
  • Blood-stage antigen
  • Immunity
  • Malaria
  • Pre-erythrocytic antigen
  • Subclass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases

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