Naturally acquired immunity to Plasmodium falciparum presents a changing landscape as malaria control programs and vaccine initiatives are implemented. Determining which immunologic indicators remain surrogates of past infection, as opposed to mediators of protection, led us to compare stability of immune responses across regions with divergent malaria transmission intensities. A repeat cross-sectional study of Kenyan children from a malaria-holoendemic area and an epidemic-prone area was used to examine longitudinal antibody and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) responses to the 3D7 and FVO variants of merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1). Antibodies to MSP1 were common in both study populations and did not significantly wane over a 21-month time period. IFN-gamma responses were less frequent and rapidly disappeared in children after a prolonged period of no malaria transmission. Antibody and IFN-gamma responses rarely correlated with each other; however, MSP1-specific IFN-gamma response correlated with lack of concurrent P. falciparum parasitemia of the same genotype, though only statistically significantly in the malaria-holoendemic region (odds ratio = 0.31, 95% confidence interval = 0.12-0.84). This study affirms that antimalarial antibodies are informative for evaluation of history of malaria exposure within individuals, whereas cell-mediated immunity, though short lived under natural exposure conditions, might provide an assessment of recent infection and protection from parasitemia.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ann_moormann/64/