The synthetic Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite peptide PfCS102 as a malaria vaccine candidate: a randomized controlled phase I trial

PLoS One. 2009 Oct 2;4(10):e7304. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007304.


Background: Fully efficient vaccines against malaria pre-erythrocytic stage are still lacking. The objective of this dose/adjuvant-finding study was to evaluate the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of a vaccine candidate based on a peptide spanning the C-terminal region of Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein (PfCS102) in malaria naive adults.

Methodology and principal findings: Thirty-six healthy malaria-naive adults were randomly distributed into three dose blocks (10, 30 and 100 microg) and vaccinated with PfCS102 in combination with either Montanide ISA 720 or GSK proprietary Adjuvant System AS02A at days 0, 60, and 180. Primary end-point (safety and reactogenicity) was based on the frequency of adverse events (AE) and of abnormal biological safety tests; secondary-end point (immunogenicity) on P. falciparum specific cell-mediated immunity and antibody response before and after immunization. The two adjuvant formulations were well tolerated and their safety profile was good. Most AEs were local and, when systemic, involved mainly fatigue and headache. Half the volunteers in AS02A groups experienced severe AEs (mainly erythema). After the third injection, 34 of 35 volunteers developed anti-PfCS102 and anti-sporozoite antibodies, and 28 of 35 demonstrated T-cell proliferative responses and IFN-gamma production. Five of 22 HLA-A2 and HLA-A3 volunteers displayed PfCS102 specific IFN-gamma secreting CD8(+) T cell responses. Responses were only marginally boosted after the 3(rd) vaccination and remained stable for 6 months. For both adjuvants, the dose of 10 microg was less immunogenic in comparison to 30 and 100 microg that induced similar responses. AS02A formulations with 30 microg or 100 microg PfCS102 induced about 10-folds higher antibody and IFN-gamma responses than Montanide formulations.

Conclusions/significance: PfCS102 peptide was safe and highly immunogenic, allowing the design of more advanced trials to test its potential for protection. Two or three immunizations with a dose of 30 microg formulated with AS02A appeared the most appropriate choice for such studies.

Trial registration: 2002 DR 1227.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Malaria Vaccines / chemistry*
  • Malaria Vaccines / pharmacology
  • Malaria Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / therapeutic use*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / immunology*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protozoan Proteins / chemistry*
  • Protozoan Proteins / immunology
  • Protozoan Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Vaccines, DNA / pharmacology*


  • Malaria Vaccines
  • Peptide Fragments
  • PfCSP DNA vaccine
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Vaccines, DNA
  • circumsporozoite protein (282-383), Plasmodium falciparum
  • circumsporozoite protein, Protozoan