Each year, malaria claims the lives of over a million individuals, mostly young children. An effective malaria vaccine is urgently needed, but progress toward this goal has been hindered by our limited understanding of the mechanisms underlying natural immunity to malaria and a lack of reliable in vitro correlates of protection. Data from both human and animal experiments offer hope that vaccine-mediated induction of immunity to malaria is achievable. Infection with irradiated sporozoites, which arrest development during the liver stage, confers sterile protective immunity in humans, suggesting an important role for the T cell response to pre-erythrocytic antigens. Importantly, studies in mice and more recently in humans demonstrate that similar protection is conferred by non-attenuated parasites when given under cover of chloroquine, which prevents blood stage malaria but does not impact the liver stage. Together these data indicate that limiting exposure to blood stage infection may actually enhance the development of immune responses to pre-erythrocytic stages, perhaps by avoiding the immunosuppressive mechanisms induced by parasitemia. The proposed study will leverage samples to be collected as part of a randomized clinical trial based in Tororo, Uganda that will compare the efficacy and safety of 3 promising malaria chemopreventive strategies with the current standard of no chemoprevention. This trial provides a unique opportunity to study the impact of chemoprevention, which uncouples liver-stage and blood-stage malaria, on the malaria-specific immune response to natural infection among infants in a high transmission setting. We will test the hypothesis that selective suppression of erythrocytic stage malaria by chemoprevention will enhance the development of highly functional T cell responses targeting pre-erythrocytic antigens and limit the induction of immunosuppressive mechanisms, and will thus foster the development of protective antimalarial immunity. In the first aim, we will prospectively evaluate the impact of potent chemoprevention on the development of the adaptive T cell response to P. falciparum during infancy. The frequency, breadth, and functional attributes of CD4 and CD8 T cells targeting pre-erythrocytic and erythrocytic stage P. falciparum antigens will be compared longitudinally between children randomized to receive chemoprevention vs. no intervention. In the second aim, we will assess the impact of recurrent parasitemia on the development of immune suppressor mechanisms and T cell dysfunction. We hypothesize that immune regulatory mechanisms, including Foxp3+ regulatory CD4 T cells, are induced by parasitemia and interfere with the establishment of effective, durable malaria-specific T cell responses that are necessary for protective immunity. In the third aim, we will determine whether malaria-specific T cell responses and/or immune suppressor mechanisms are associated with prospective protection from malaria following cessation of chemoprevention, following adjustment for epidemiologic covariates of exposure. These studies will greatly enhance our understanding of the acquisition of natural immunity to malaria in infancy.

Public Health Relevance

Malaria is a leading killer of children worldwide, but efforts to develop a preventive vaccine have failed due to our poor understanding of the immune response to infection by malaria parasites. We will perform detailed longitudinal studies of the immune response to malaria in Ugandan infants participating in a clinical trial of chemoprevention strategies. The immune responses of children receiving chemoprevention, which prevents blood-stage but not liver-stage malaria, will be compared to children who do not receive chemoprevention, and these immune parameters will be correlated with prospective protection from clinical malaria following cessation of chemoprevention

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01AI093615-04
Application #
8628032
Study Section
Clinical Research and Field Studies of Infectious Diseases Study Section (CRFS)
Program Officer
Wali, Tonu M
Project Start
2011-03-15
Project End
2016-02-29
Budget Start
2014-03-01
Budget End
2015-02-28
Support Year
4
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
$484,105
Indirect Cost
$138,364
Name
University of California San Francisco
Department
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
094878337
City
San Francisco
State
CA
Country
United States
Zip Code
94143
Jagannathan, Prasanna; Nankya, Felistas; Stoyanov, Cristina et al. (2015) IFN? Responses to Pre-erythrocytic and Blood-stage Malaria Antigens Exhibit Differential Associations With Past Exposure and Subsequent Protection. J Infect Dis 211:1987-96
Jagannathan, Prasanna; Eccles-James, Ijeoma; Bowen, Katherine et al. (2014) IFN?/IL-10 co-producing cells dominate the CD4 response to malaria in highly exposed children. PLoS Pathog 10:e1003864
Jagannathan, Prasanna; Kim, Charlie C; Greenhouse, Bryan et al. (2014) Loss and dysfunction of V?2? ?? T cells are associated with clinical tolerance to malaria. Sci Transl Med 6:251ra117