Inhibitory Factors in Breastmilk, Maternal and Infant Sera Against in Vitro Growth of Plasmodium Falciparum Malaria Parasite

J Trop Pediatr. 2000 Apr;46(2):92-6. doi: 10.1093/tropej/46.2.92.


Complications from falciparum malaria are responsible for over one million infant deaths annually. There is as yet no clinically protective vaccine that has been developed against human malaria parasites. While several studies have demonstrated the inhibitory properties of human sera against Plasmodium falciparum, there is no reported investigation that has examined the protective effects of human breastmilk against the malaria parasite. This study demonstrates the presence of significant antibody titers to ring, trophozoite, schizont and gametocyte stages of P. falciparum in 144 Nigerian maternal milk samples and also in paired maternal and infant sera. The study also demonstrates significant in vitro growth inhibition of P. falciparum by maternal and infant sera, but most notably by breastmilk samples and breastmilk constituents, such as lactoferrin and sIgA. The results therefore suggest a protective in vivo role for breastmilk in the possible modulation of malaria frequency, severity and complications.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / blood*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Culture Media
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Maternally-Acquired*
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood*
  • Infant
  • Malaria, Falciparum / mortality
  • Malaria, Falciparum / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Milk, Human / immunology*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / immunology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Culture Media
  • Immunoglobulin G