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.
Here we present a comprehensive review of the literature on the vectorial importance of the major Anopheles malaria vectors in Colombia. We provide basic information on the geographical distribution, altitudinal range, immature habitats, adult behaviour, feeding preferences and anthropophily, endophily and infectivity rates. We additionally review information on the life cycle, longevity and population fluctuation of Colombian Anopheles species. Emphasis was placed on the primary vectors that have been epidemiologically incriminated in malaria transmission: Anopheles darlingi, Anopheles albimanus and Anopheles nuneztovari. The role of a selection of local, regional or secondary vectors (e.g., Anopheles pseudopunctipennis and Anopheles neivai) is also discussed. We highlight the importance of combining biological, morphological and molecular data for the correct taxonomical determination of a given species, particularly for members of the species complexes. We likewise emphasise the importance of studying the bionomics of primary and secondary vectors along with an examination of the local conditions affecting the transmission of malaria. The presence and spread of the major vectors and the emergence of secondary species capable of transmitting human Plasmodia are of great interest. When selecting control measures, the anopheline diversity in the region must be considered. Variation in macroclimate conditions over a species geographical range must be well understood and targeted to plan effective control measures based on the population dynamics of the local Anopheles species.
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.
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.
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.
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