Towards an optimized inhibition of liver stage development assay (ILSDA) for Plasmodium falciparum

Xiaoyan Zou, Brent L. House, Michael D. Zyzak, Thomas L. Richie, Robert V Gerbasi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: Experimental vaccines targeting Plasmodium falciparum have had some success in recent years. These vaccines use attenuated parasites, recombinant sporozoite proteins, or DNA and virus combinations to induce cell-mediated immune responses and/or antibodies targeting sporozoite surface proteins. To capitalize on the success of these vaccines and understand the mechanisms by which these vaccines function, it is important to develop assays that measure correlates of protection in volunteers. The inhibition of liver stage development assay (ILSDA) tests antibodies for the ability to block sporozoite development in hepatocytes. As such the ILSDA is an excellent candidate assay to identify correlates of humoral protection, particularly against the liver stage of malaria infection. In addition, the ILSDA can be used as a tool to evaluate novel sporozoite antigens for future vaccine development. Historically the ILSDA has suffered from low sporozoite infection rates, absence of standardized reagents, and the subjectivity associated with the traditional primary outcome measures, which depend on microscopy of stained hepatocyte cultures. This study worked to significantly improve sporozoite infection rates in hepatocytes, modify key steps in the assay protocol to reduce experimental variability, and demonstrate the utility of the ILSDA in testing antibodies targeting the circumsporozoite protein. Methods. Cryopreserved primary human hepatocytes, Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites, and circumsporozoite antibodies were used to optimize the ILSDA. Results: Inoculation of cryopreserved primary human hepatocytes with Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites improved liver stage development in the ILSDA compared to HCO4 cells. In the ILSDA, circumsporozoite antibodies suppressed liver stage development in cryopreserved primary human hepatocytes in a concentration- dependent manner. Antibody-mediated suppression of parasite development in the ILSDA at a 96-hour endpoint was more robust than the 24-hour endpoint. Conclusions: ILSDA performance is improved by the use of cryopreserved primary human hepatocytes, expediting interactions between sporozoites and hepatocytes, and extending the assay endpoint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number394
JournalMalaria journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Antibody
  • CSP
  • Functional assay
  • Hepatocyte
  • Liver stage
  • Sporozoite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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