Identifying the source of resurgent parasites is paramount to strategic and successful intervention for malaria elimination. Although malaria incidence in Panama is low, a recent outbreak resulted in a six-fold increase in reported cases. We hypothesized parasites sampled from this epidemic might be related and exhibit clonal population structure. We tested the genetic relatedness using informative single nucleotide polymorphisms and drug resistance loci. We found the parasites to be clustered into three clonal subpopulations and shared relatedness with parasites from Colombia. Two clusters of Panamanian parasites shared identical drug resistance haplotypes, and all clusters shared a chloroquine-resistance genotype matching the pfcrt haplotype of Colombian origin. Our findings suggest these resurgent parasite populations are highly clonal and likely resulted from epidemic expansion of imported or vestigial cases. Outbreak investigation using genetic tools can illuminate potential sources of epidemic malaria and guide strategies to prevent further resurgence in areas of malaria elimination.
Pregnancy triggers immunological changes aimed to tolerate the fetus, but its impact on B lymphocytes is poorly understood. In addition, exposure to the Plasmodium parasite is associated with altered distribution of peripheral memory B cell (MBC) subsets. To study the combined impact of high malaria exposure and pregnancy in B cell subpopulations, we analyzed PBMCs from pregnant and nonpregnant individuals from a malaria-nonendemic country (Spain) and from a high malaria-endemic country (Papua New Guinea). In the malaria-naive cohorts, pregnancy was associated with a significant expansion of all switched (IgD(-)) MBC and a decrease of naive B cells. Malaria-exposed women had more atypical MBC and fewer marginal zone-like MBC, and their levels correlated with both Plasmodium vivax- and Plasmodium falciparum-specific plasma IgG levels. Classical but not atypical MBC were increased in P. falciparum infections. Moreover, active atypical MBC positively correlated with proinflammatory cytokine plasma concentrations and had lower surface IgG levels than the average. Decreased plasma eotaxin (CCL11) levels were associated with pregnancy and malaria exposure and also correlated with B cell subset frequencies. Additionally, active atypical and active classical MBC expressed higher levels of eotaxin receptor CCR3 than the other B cell subsets, suggesting a chemotactic effect of eotaxin on these B cell subsets. These findings are important to understand immunity to infections like malaria that result in negative outcomes for both the mother and the newborn and may have important implications on vaccine development.
Massive implementation of malaria diagnostics in low-resource countries is regarded as a pivotal strategy in control and elimination efforts. Although malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are considered a viable alternative, there are still obstacles to the widespread implementation of this strategy, such as reporting constraints and lack of proper quality assurance of RDT-based programmes at point-of-care (POC).
Although Colombia has witnessed an important decrease in malaria transmission, the disease remains a public health problem with an estimated ~10 million people currently living in areas with malaria risk and ~61,000 cases reported in 2012. This study aimed to determine and compare the level of knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) about malaria in three endemic communities of Colombia to provide the knowledge framework for development of new intervention strategies for malaria elimination.
The circumsporozoite (CS) protein is a major malaria sporozoite surface antigen currently being considered as vaccine candidate. Plasmodium vivax CS (PvCS) protein comprises a dimorphic central repeat fragment flanked by conserved regions that contain functional domains involved in parasite invasion of host cells. The protein amino (N-terminal) flank has a cleavage region (region I), essential for proteolytic processing prior to parasite invasion of liver cells.
Significant progress has been recently achieved in the development of Plasmodium vivax challenge infections in humans, which are essential for vaccine and drug testing. With the goal of accelerating clinical development of malaria vaccines, the outcome of infections experimentally induced in naïve and semi-immune volunteers by infected mosquito bites was compared.
Protein ?-helical coiled coil structures that elicit antibody responses, which block critical functions of medically important microorganisms, represent a means for vaccine development. By using bioinformatics algorithms, a total of 50 antigens with ?-helical coiled coil motifs orthologous to Plasmodium falciparum were identified in the P. vivax genome. The peptides identified in silico were chemically synthesized; circular dichroism studies indicated partial or high ?-helical content. Antigenicity was evaluated using human sera samples from malaria-endemic areas of Colombia and Papua New Guinea. Eight of these fragments were selected and used to assess immunogenicity in BALB/c mice. ELISA assays indicated strong reactivity of serum samples from individuals residing in malaria-endemic regions and sera of immunized mice, with the ?-helical coiled coil structures. In addition, ex vivo production of IFN-? by murine mononuclear cells confirmed the immunogenicity of these structures and the presence of T-cell epitopes in the peptide sequences. Moreover, sera of mice immunized with four of the eight antigens recognized native proteins on blood-stage P. vivax parasites, and antigenic cross-reactivity with three of the peptides was observed when reacted with both the P. falciparum orthologous fragments and whole parasites. Results here point to the ?-helical coiled coil peptides as possible P. vivax malaria vaccine candidates as were observed for P. falciparum. Fragments selected here warrant further study in humans and non-human primate models to assess their protective efficacy as single components or assembled as hybrid linear epitopes.
Plasmodium vivax circumsporozoite (PvCS) protein is a major sporozoite surface antigen involved in parasite invasion of hepatocytes and is currently being considered as vaccine candidate. PvCS contains a dimorphic central repetitive fragment flanked by conserved regions that contain functional domains.
Population studies show that individuals acquire immunity to Plasmodium vivax more quickly than Plasmodium falciparum irrespective of overall transmission intensity, resulting in the peak burden of P. vivax malaria in younger age groups. Similarly, actively induced P. vivax infections in malaria therapy patients resulted in faster and generally more strain-transcending acquisition of immunity than P. falciparum infections. The mechanisms behind the more rapid acquisition of immunity to P. vivax are poorly understood. Natural acquired immune responses to P. vivax target both pre-erythrocytic and blood-stage antigens and include humoral and cellular components. To date, only a few studies have investigated the association of these immune responses with protection, with most studies focussing on a few merozoite antigens (such as the Pv Duffy binding protein (PvDBP), the Pv reticulocyte binding proteins (PvRBPs), or the Pv merozoite surface proteins (PvMSP1, 3 & 9)) or the circumsporozoite protein (PvCSP). Naturally acquired transmission-blocking (TB) immunity (TBI) was also found in several populations. Although limited, these data support the premise that developing a multi-stage P. vivax vaccine may be feasible and is worth pursuing.
Plasmodium vivax is the most prevalent malaria parasite on the American continent. It generates a global burden of 80-100 million cases annually and represents a tremendous public health problem, particularly in the American and Asian continents. A malaria vaccine would be considered the most cost-effective measure against this vector-borne disease and it would contribute to a reduction in malaria cases and to eventual eradication. Although significant progress has been achieved in the search for Plasmodium falciparum antigens that could be used in a vaccine, limited progress has been made in the search for P. vivax components that might be eligible for vaccine development. This is primarily due to the lack of in vitro cultures to serve as an antigen source and to inadequate funding. While the most advanced P. falciparum vaccine candidate is currently being tested in Phase III trials in Africa, the most advanced P. vivax candidates have only advanced to Phase I trials. Herein, we describe the overall strategy and progress in P. vivax vaccine research, from antigen discovery to preclinical and clinical development and we discuss the regional potential of Latin America to develop a comprehensive platform for vaccine development.
Malaria is a vector-borne disease that is considered to be one of the most serious public health problems due to its high global mortality and morbidity rates. Although multiple strategies for controlling malaria have been used, many have had limited impact due to the appearance and rapid dissemination of mosquito resistance to insecticides, parasite resistance to multiple antimalarial drug, and the lack of sustainability. Individuals in endemic areas that have been permanently exposed to the parasite develop specific immune responses capable of diminishing parasite burden and the clinical manifestations of the disease, including blocking of parasite transmission to the mosquito vector. This is referred to as transmission blocking (TB) immunity (TBI) and is mediated by specific antibodies and other factors ingested during the blood meal that inhibit parasite development in the mosquito. These antibodies recognize proteins expressed on either gametocytes or parasite stages that develop in the mosquito midgut and are considered to be potential malaria vaccine candidates. Although these candidates, collectively called TB vaccines (TBV), would not directly stop malaria from infecting individuals, but would stop transmission from infected person to non-infected person. Here, we review the progress that has been achieved in TBI studies and the development of TBV and we highlight their potential usefulness in areas of low endemicity such as Latin America.
Malaria is the most important parasitic disease worldwide, responsible for an estimated 225 million clinical cases each year. It mainly affects children, pregnant women and non-immune adults who frequently die victims of cerebral manifestations and anaemia. Although the contribution of the American continent to the global malaria burden is only around 1.2 million clinical cases annually, there are 170 million inhabitants living at risk of malaria transmission in this region. On the African continent, where Plasmodium falciparum is the most prevalent human malaria parasite, anaemia is responsible for about half of the malaria-related deaths. Conversely, in Latin America (LA), malaria-related anaemia appears to be uncommon, though there is a limited knowledge about its real prevalence. This may be partially explained by several factors, including that the overall malaria burden in LA is significantly lower than that of Africa, that Plasmodium vivax, the predominant Plasmodium species in the region, appears to display a different clinical spectrus and most likely because better health services in LA prevent the development of severe malaria cases. With the aim of contributing to the understanding of the real importance of malaria-related anaemia in LA, we discuss here a revision of the available literature on the subject and the usefulness of experimental animal models, including New World monkeys, particularly for the study of the mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of malaria.
Latin America contributes 1-1.2 million clinical malaria cases to the global malaria burden of about 300 million per year. In 21 malaria endemic countries, the population at risk in this region represents less than 10% of the total population exposed worldwide. Factors such as rapid deforestation, inadequate agricultural practices, climate change, political instability, and both increasing parasite drug resistance and vector resistance to insecticides contribute to malaria transmission. Recently, several malaria endemic countries have experienced a significant reduction in numbers of malaria cases. This is most likely due to actions taken by National Malaria Control Programs (NMCP) with the support from international funding agencies. We describe here the research strategies and activities to be undertaken by the Centro Latino Americano de Investigación en Malaria (CLAIM), a new research center established for the non-Amazonian region of Latin America by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Throughout a network of countries in the region, initially including Colombia, Guatemala, Panama, and Peru, CLAIM will address major gaps in our understanding of changing malaria epidemiology, vector biology and control, and clinical malaria mainly due to Plasmodium vivax. In close partnership with NMCPs, CLAIM seeks to conduct research on how and why malaria is decreasing in many countries of the region as a basis for developing and implementing new strategies that will accelerate malaria elimination.
Frequency and levels of IgG antibodies to an N-terminal fragment of the Plasmodium vivax MSP-1 (Pv200L) protein, in individuals naturally exposed to malaria in four endemic areas of Brazil, were evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Plasma samples of 261 P. vivax-infected individuals from communities of Macapá, Novo Repartimento, Porto Velho, and Plácido de Castro in the Amazonian region with different malaria transmission intensities. A high mean number of studied individuals (89.3%) presented with antibodies to the Pv200L that correlated with the number of previous malaria infections; there were significant differences in the frequency of the responders (71.9-98.7) and in the antibody levels (1:200-1:51,200) among the four study areas. Results of this study provide evidence that Pv200L is a naturally immunogenic fragment of the PvMSP-1 and is associated with the degree of exposure to parasites. The fine specificity of antibodies to Pv200L is currently being assessed.
Malaria infection induces antibodies capable of suppressing the infectivity of gametocytes and gametes, however, little is known about the duration of the antibody response, the parasite specificity, and the role of complement. We report the analyses of the transmission-blocking (TB) activity of sera collected from 105 Plasmodium vivax-infected and 44 non-infected individuals from a malaria endemic region of Colombia, using a membrane feeding assay in Anopheles albimanus mosquitoes. In infected donors we found that TB activity was antibody dose dependent (35%), lasted for 2-4 months after infection, and in 70% of the cases different P. vivax wild isolates displayed differential susceptibility to blocking antibodies. Additionally, in a number of assays TB was complement-dependent. Twenty-seven percent of non-infected individuals presented TB activity that correlated with antibody titers. Studies here provide preliminary data on factors of great importance for further work on the development of TB vaccines.
Merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP-1) is a polymorphic malaria protein with functional domains involved in parasite erythrocyte interaction. Plasmodium vivax MSP-1 has a fragment (Pv200L) that has been identified as a potential subunit vaccine because it is highly immunogenic and induces partial protection against infectious parasite challenge in vaccinated monkeys. To determine the extent of genetic polymorphism and its effect on the translated protein, we sequenced the Pv200L coding region from isolates of 26 P. vivax-infected patients in a malaria-endemic area of Colombia. The extent of nucleotide diversity (?) in these isolates (0.061 ± 0.004) was significantly lower (P ? 0.001) than that observed in Thai and Brazilian isolates; 0.083 ± 0.006 and 0.090 ± 0.006, respectively. We found two new alleles and several previously unidentified dimorphic substitutions and significant size polymorphism. The presence of highly conserved blocks in this fragment has important implications for the development of Pv200L as a subunit vaccine candidate.
Circumsporozoite (CS) protein is a malaria antigen involved in sporozoite invasion of hepatocytes, and thus considered to have good vaccine potential. We evaluated the polymorphism of the Plasmodium vivax CS gene in 24 parasite isolates collected from malaria-endemic areas of Colombia. We sequenced 27 alleles, most of which (25/27) corresponded to the VK247 genotype and the remainder to the VK210 type. All VK247 alleles presented a mutation (Gly ? Asn) at position 28 in the N-terminal region, whereas the C-terminal presented three insertions: the ANKKAGDAG, which is common in all VK247 isolates; 12 alleles presented the insertion GAGGQAAGGNAANKKAGDAG; and 5 alleles presented the insertion GGNAGGNA. Both repeat regions were polymorphic in gene sequence and size. Sequences coding for B-, T-CD4(+), and T-CD8(+) cell epitopes were found to be conserved. This study confirms the high polymorphism of the repeat domain and the highly conserved nature of the flanking regions.
A non-human primate model for the induction of protective immunity against the pre-erythrocytic stages of Plasmodium vivax malaria using radiation-attenuated P. vivax sporozoites may help to characterize protective immune mechanisms and identify novel malaria vaccine candidates. Immune responses and protective efficacy induced by vaccination with irradiated P. vivax sporozoites were evaluated in malaria-naive Aotus monkeys. Three groups of six monkeys received two, five, or ten intravenous inoculations, respectively, of 100,000 irradiated P. vivax sporozoites; control groups received either 10 doses of uninfected salivary gland extract or no inoculations. Immunization resulted in the production low levels of antibodies that specifically recognized P. vivax sporozoites and the circumsporozoite protein. Additionally, immunization induced low levels of antigen-specific IFN-? responses. Intravenous challenge with viable sporozoites resulted in partial protection in a dose-dependent manner. These findings suggest that the Aotus monkey model may be able to play a role in preclinical development of P. vivax pre-erythrocytic stage vaccines.
Plasmodium vivax circumsporozoite (CS) protein is a leading malaria vaccine candidate. We describe the characterization of specific immune responses induced in 21 malaria-naive volunteers vaccinated with long synthetic peptides derived from the CS protein formulated in Montanide ISA 720. Both antibody- and cell-mediated immune responses were analyzed. Antibodies were predominantly of IgG1 and IgG3 isotypes, recognized parasite proteins on the immunofluorescent antibody test, and partially blocked sporozoite invasion of hepatoma cell lines in vitro. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from most volunteers (94%) showed IFN-? production in vitro upon stimulation with both long signal peptide and short peptides containing CD8+ T-cell epitopes. The relatively limited sample size did not allow conclusions about HLA associations with the immune responses observed. In summary, the inherent safety and tolerability together with strong antibody responses, invasion blocking activity, and the IFN-? production induced by these vaccine candidates warrants further testing in a phase II clinical trial.
Vaccine development for Plasmodium vivax malaria is underway. A model to assess the protective efficacy of vaccine candidates in humans is urgently needed. Given the lack of continuous P. vivax cultures, we developed a system to infect Anopheles albimanus mosquitoes using blood from P. vivax-infected patients and determined parameters for challenge of malaria-naive volunteers by mosquito bite. Absence of co-infections in parasitized blood was confirmed by tests consistent with blood bank screening. A total of 119 experiments were conducted using batches of 900-4,500 mosquitoes fed by an artificial membrane feeding method. Optimal conditions for mosquito probing and infection were determined. Presence of oocyst and sporozoites were assessed on Days 7-8 and 14-15, respectively, and conditions to choose batches of infected mosquitoes for sporozoite challenge were established. Procedures to infect volunteers took a 2-hour period including verification of inoculum dose. Anopheles albimanus mosquitoes represent a valuable resource for P. vivax sporozoite challenge of volunteers.
Plasmodium vivax circumsporozoite (CS) protein is a leading malaria vaccine candidate previously assessed in animals and humans. Here, combinations of three synthetic polypeptides corresponding to amino (N), central repeat (R), and carboxyl (C) regions of the CS protein formulated in Montanide ISA 720 or Montanide ISA 51 adjuvants were assessed for immunogenicity in rodents and primates. BALB/c mice and Aotus monkeys were divided into test and control groups and were immunized three times with doses of 50 and 100 ?g of vaccine or placebo. Antigen-specific antimalarial antibodies were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, immunofluorescent antibody test, and IFN-? responses by enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELIspot). Both vaccine formulations were highly immunogenic in both species. Mice developed better antibody responses against C and R polypeptides, whereas the N polypeptide was more immunogenic in monkeys. Anti-peptide antibodies remained detectable for several months and recognized native proteins on sporozoites. Differences between Montanide ISA 720 and Montanide ISA 51 formulations were not significant.
We assessed the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of a mixture of three synthetic peptides derived from the Plasmodium vivax circumsporozoite protein formulated in Montanide ISA 720 or Montanide ISA 51. Forty healthy malaria-naive volunteers were allocated to five experimental groups (A-E): four groups (A-D) were immunized intramuscularly with 50 and 100 ?g/dose injections of a mixture of N, R, and C peptides formulated in the two different adjuvants at 0, 2, and 4 months and one group was administered placebo. Vaccines were immunogenic, safe, well tolerated, and no serious adverse events related to the vaccine occurred. Seroconversion occurred in > 90% of the vaccines and antibodies recognized the sporozoite protein on immunofluorescent antibody test. Vaccines in Montanide ISA 51 showed a higher sporozoite protein recognition and interferon production. Results encourage further testing of the vaccine protective efficacy.
A safe and reproducible Plasmodium vivax infectious challenge method is required to evaluate the efficacy of malaria vaccine candidates. Seventeen healthy Duffy (+) and five Duffy (-) subjects were randomly allocated into three (A-C) groups and were exposed to the bites of 2-4 Anopheles albimanus mosquitoes infected with Plasmodium vivax derived from three donors. Duffy (-) subjects were included as controls for each group. Clinical manifestations of malaria and parasitemia were monitored beginning 7 days post-challenge. All Duffy (+) volunteers developed patent malaria infection within 16 days after challenge. Prepatent period determined by thick smear, was longer for Group A (median 14.5 d) than for Groups B and C (median 10 d/each). Infected volunteers recovered rapidly after treatment with no serious adverse events. The bite of as low as two P. vivax-infected mosquitoes provides safe and reliable infections in malaria-naive volunteers, suitable for assessing antimalarial and vaccine efficacy trials.
Approximately 170 million inhabitants of the American continent live at risk of malaria transmission. Although the continents contribution to the global malaria burden is small, at least 1-1.2 million malaria cases are reported annually. Sixty percent of the malaria cases occur in Brazil and the other 40% are distributed in 20 other countries of Central and South America. Plasmodium vivax is the predominant species (74.2%) followed by P. falciparum (25.7%) and P. malariae (0.1%), and no less than 10 Anopheles species have been identified as primary or secondary malaria vectors. Rapid deforestation and agricultural practices are directly related to increases in Anopheles species diversity and abundance, as well as in the number of malaria cases. Additionally, climate changes profoundly affect malaria transmission and are responsible for malaria epidemics in some regions of South America. Parasite drug resistance is increasing, but due to bio-geographic barriers there is extraordinary genetic differentiation of parasites with limited dispersion. Although the clinical spectrum ranges from uncomplicated to severe malaria cases, due to the generally low to middle transmission intensity, features such as severe anemia, cerebral malaria and other complications appear to be less frequent than in other endemic regions and asymptomatic infections are a common feature. Although the National Malaria Control Programs (NMCP) of different countries differ in their control activities these are all directed to reduce morbidity and mortality by using strategies like health promotion, vector control and impregnate bed nets among others. Recently, international initiatives such as the Malaria Control Program in Andean-country Border Regions (PAMAFRO) (implemented by the Andean Organism for Health (ORAS) and sponsored by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM)) and The Amazon Network for the Surveillance of Antimalarial Drug Resistance (RAVREDA) (sponsored by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and several other partners), have made great investments for malaria control in the region. We describe here the current status of malaria in a non-Amazonian region comprising several countries of South and Central America participating in the Centro Latino Americano de Investigación en Malaria (CLAIM), an International Center of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR) sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
The interruption of malaria transmission worldwide is one of the greatest challenges for international health and development communities. The current expert view suggests that, by aggressively scaling up control with currently available tools and strategies, much greater gains could be achieved against malaria, including elimination from a number of countries and regions; however, even with maximal effort we will fall short of global eradication. The Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (malERA) complements the current research agenda--primarily directed towards reducing morbidity and mortality--with one that aims to identify key knowledge gaps and define the strategies and tools that will result in reducing the basic reproduction rate to less than 1, with the ultimate aim of eradication of the parasite from the human population. Sustained commitment from local communities, civil society, policy leaders, and the scientific community, together with a massive effort to build a strong base of researchers from the endemic areas will be critical factors in the success of this new agenda.
Successful establishment of a Plasmodium vivax sporozoite challenge model in humans is described. Eighteen healthy adult, malaria-naïve volunteers were randomly allocated to Groups A-C and exposed to 3 +/- 1, 6 +/- 1, and 9 +/- 1 bites of Anopheles albimanus mosquitoes infected with P. vivax, respectively. Seventeen volunteers developed signs and symptoms consistent with malaria, and geometric mean prepatent periods of 11.1 days (9.3-11) for Group A; 10.8 days (9.8-11.9) for Group B; and 10.6 days (8.7-12.4) for Group C, with no statistically significant difference among groups (Kruskal-Wallis, P = 0.70). One volunteer exposed to eight mosquito bites did not develop a parasitemia. No differences in parasite density were observed and all individuals successfully recovered after anti-malarial treatment. None of the volunteers developed parasite relapses within an 18-month follow-up. In conclusion, malaria-naive volunteers can be safely and reproducibly infected with bites of 2-10 An. albimanus mosquitoes carrying P. vivax sporozoites. This challenge method is suitable for vaccine and anti-malarial drug testing.
Anemia is a common complication of human malaria. Since micronutrient deficiencies are highly prevalent in malaria-endemic areas and appear to contribute to anemia etiology, we conducted a cross-sectional study in Tumaco, Colombia, to examine the associations between plasma vitamin B12 or erythrocyte folate concentrations and hemoglobin (Hb) among 96 adults with predominantly Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Prevalence of folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies was 26.0 and 26.6%, respectively. There was an inverse, linear relation between folate and Hb concentrations. Adjusted difference in Hb between lowest and highest folate quartiles was 1g/dL (p=0.04; p, test for trend=0.01). Vitamin B12 was not associated with Hb concentrations and did not modify the associations between folate and Hb. Incidentally, body mass index (BMI) was inversely associated with parasitemia and risk of clinical malaria. Future longitudinal studies are warranted to determine the potential pathophysiological role of folate in malaria-related anemia.
The WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research (IVR) Malaria Vaccine Advisory Committee (MALVAC) provides advice to WHO on priorities in malaria vaccine research and development (R&D). This document summarizes a MALVAC scientific consultation of leading vaccine scientists on priorities in Plasmodium vivax vaccine R&D. The meeting discussed recent advances and key challenges in addressing identified gaps in knowledge. Major areas of discussion included disease burden estimates, clinical disease spectrum definitions, potential target product profiles and immunological and clinical research needed to better inform antigen selection and vaccine design. The need for further development of the human challenge model for P. vivax vaccines and specific considerations for conduct of field trials with P. vivax vaccines was outlined. This report summarizes the discussion and conclusions of the consultation, with recommendations for priority targeted research.
Information on malaria-associated anemia in adult patients is scarce in South American populations. From 2004 to 2006, malaria patients 18 to 45 years of age were recruited in a descriptive cross-sectional study from two different towns: Manaus, in the Brazilian Amazon (120 patients) where Plasmodium falciparum incidence is lower ( approximately 20%), and in Tumaco on the Colombian Pacific Coast (126 patients) where P. falciparum incidence is higher ( approximately 90%). Relationships between hematologic parameters and independent variables were explored using cross-tabulations and multiple linear regression analyses. We found an inverse relationship of hemoglobin (Hb) levels with days of illness in both sites. In Manaus but not in Tumaco, red cell distribution width (RDW) was related to asexual parasitemia. Reticulocytes were higher in Plasmodium vivax infection in Tumaco. Only in Tumaco, two patients with P. falciparum infection presented with severe anemia (Hb < 7 g/dL). Etiologic factors associated with hematologic changes in malaria seem to be multifactorial. More studies are needed to clarify the anemia determinants in uncomplicated malaria in South America, where malaria transmission is mostly unstable.
The development of pre-erythrocytic Plasmodium vivax vaccines is hindered by the lack of in vitro culture systems or experimental rodent models. To help bypass these roadblocks, we exploited the fact that naturally exposed Fy- individuals who lack the Duffy blood antigen (Fy) receptor are less likely to develop blood-stage infections; therefore, they preferentially develop immune responses to pre-erythrocytic-stage parasites, whereas Fy+ individuals experience both liver- and blood-stage infections and develop immune responses to both pre-erythrocytic and erythrocytic parasites. We screened 60 endemic sera from P. vivax-exposed Fy+ or Fy- donors against a protein microarray containing 91 P. vivax proteins with P. falciparum orthologs that were up-regulated in sporozoites. Antibodies against 10 P. vivax antigens were identified in sera from P. vivax-exposed individuals but not unexposed controls. This technology has promising implications in the discovery of potential vaccine candidates against P. vivax malaria.
The review covers the development of synthetic peptides as vaccine candidates for Plasmodium falciparum- and Plasmodium vivax-induced malaria from its beginning up to date and the concomitant progress of solid phase peptide synthesis (SPPS) that enables the production of long peptides in a routine fashion. The review also stresses the development of other complementary tools and actions in order to achieve the long sought goal of an efficacious malaria vaccine.
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