Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes often sequester in the placenta of pregnant women, producing placental malaria, a condition that can compromise the health of the developing fetus. Scientists are hopeful that a vaccine can be developed to prevent this condition. Immunological mechanisms responsible for eliminating parasites from the placenta remain unclear, but antibodies to the carboxyl-terminal 19-kDa segment of the merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1-19), the ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen (RESA), and an erythrocyte-surface ligand that binds chondroitin sulfate A (CSA-L) have been implicated. In addition, antibodies to sporozoite and liver-stage antigens could reduce initial parasite burdens. This study sought to determine if antibodies to the circumsporozoite protein (CSP), liver-stage antigen 1 (LSA1), RESA, MSP1-19, or CSA-L correlated with either the absence of placental parasites or low placental parasitemias. Using a frequency-matched case-control study design, we compared antibody levels in women (gravidity 1 to 11) with and without placental malaria. Results showed that women who were antibody negative for MSP1-19 were at a higher risk of having placental malaria than women with antibodies (P < 0.007). Furthermore, an association between high levels of antibodies that blocked the binding of infected erythrocytes to CSA and low placental parasitemias was observed (P = 0.02). On the other hand, women with high antibody levels at term to CSP, LSA1, and RESA were more likely to have placental malaria than antibody-negative women. Since antibodies to MSP1-19 and CSA-L were associated with reduced placental malaria, both antigens show promise for inclusion in a vaccine for women of child-bearing age.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases