The long term goals of the proposed work are to understand how anti-malaria antibodies and T-cell and B-cell memory contribute to protection against asexual blood stage Plasmodium falciparum and the impact of vector interventions that are now decreasing malaria transmission in Africa on immune memory and malaria susceptibility. Our previous research in western Kenya has been concerned with elucidating the mechanisms underlying age-related naturally acquired immunity, with a focus on antibody and T-cell responses to the 42 kDa C-terminal region of Merozoite Surface Protein 1. This earlier work was done when malaria transmission was higher than at present and before a clinical trial of MSP1 in Kenyan children showed no efficacy. Accordingly, our research strategy has been modified to address the impact of reduced malaria exposure on acquired immunity and stalled progress toward development of a blood stage vaccine.
The Specific Aims are to: 1: Identify a repertoire of merozoite invasion ligands important in protection against parasitemia and clinical malaria. Antibodies from well characterized historic cohorts of children and adults (2000-09) will be used to identify merozoite proteins credentialed as biologically significant by their established role for progression of merozoites through the erythrocyte cycle (MSP1, AMA1, EBA175, EBA140, Reticulocyte-binding homolog (Rh) proteins, SERA5) and other targets that are (presently) not well characterized (6-cys proteins, MSP6, MSP7). 2: Examine how T-cell memory to credentialed merozoite antigens contributes to age-related malaria immunity. CD4 T-cell memory subsets and cytokines implicated to have a protective role (IFN-() and counter- regulatory function on IFN-( (IL-10, TGF-?) from historic and new (2012-14) child and adult cohorts will be evaluated and compared. 3: Evaluate the relationship of B-cell memory to the development and maintenance of acquired immunity. The frequency of circulating Ag-specific memory B-cells will be quantified and correlated with the magnitude and durability of antibody responses, incident parasitemia, and clinical malaria. These responses will be evaluated in the context of B-cell memory phenotypes stratified according to age and clinical malaria status. Measurable outcomes from this research will identify and validate new malaria antigens as vaccine candidates and contribute to understanding the mechanisms and impact of decreasing transmission on the age profile and durability of naturally acquired immunity against malaria.
This research will advance understanding of how decreasing malaria transmission in Africa impacts the strength and durability of acquired immunity that has historically resulted in protection against malaria morbidity by late childhood and credential novel merozoite proteins as potential vaccine targets.
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