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Relationship between malaria incidence and IgG levels to Plasmodium falciparum merozoite antigens in Malian children: impact of hemoglobins S and C

Miura, K;Diakite, M;Diouf, A;Doumbia, S;Konate, D;Keita, AS;Moretz, SE;Tullo, G;Zhou, H;Lopera-Mesa, TM;Anderson, JM;Fairhurst, RM;Long, CA;

Heterozygous hemoglobin (Hb) AS (sickle-cell trait) and HbAC are hypothesized to protect against Plasmodium falciparum malaria in part by enhancing naturally-acquired immunity to this disease. To investigate this hypothesis, we compared antibody levels to four merozoite antigens from the P. falciparum 3D7 clone (apical membrane antigen 1, AMA1-3D7; merozoite surface protein 1, MSP1-3D7; 175 kDa erythrocyte-binding antigen, EBA175-3D7; and merozoite surface protein 2, MSP2-3D7) in a cohort of 103 HbAA, 73 HbAS and 30 HbAC children aged 3 to 11 years in a malaria-endemic area of Mali. In the 2009 transmission season we found that HbAS, but not HbAC, significantly reduced the risk of malaria compared to HbAA. IgG levels to MSP1 and MSP2 at the start of this transmission season inversely correlated with malaria incidence after adjusting for age and Hb type. However, HbAS children had significantly lower IgG levels to EBA175 and MSP2 compared to HbAA children. On the other hand, HbAC children had similar IgG levels to all four antigens. The parasite growth-inhibitory activity of purified IgG samples did not differ significantly by Hb type. Changes in antigen-specific IgG levels during the 2009 transmission and 2010 dry seasons also did not differ by Hb type, and none of these IgG levels dropped significantly during the dry season. These data suggest that sickle-cell trait does not reduce the risk of malaria by enhancing the acquisition of IgG responses to merozoite antigens.