Background: Malaria elimination campaigns are planned or active in many countries. The effects of malaria elimination on immune responses such as antigen-specific IFN- γ responses are not well characterized.
Methods: IFN- γ responses to the P. falciparum antigens circumsporozoite protein, liver stage antigen-1, thrombospondin-related adhesive protein, apical membrane antigen-1, MB2, and merozoite surface protein-1 were tested by ELISA in 243 individuals in highland Kenya in April 2008, October 2008, and April 2009, after a one-year period of interrupted malaria transmission from April 2007 to March 2008.
Results: While one individual (0.4%) tested positive for P. falciparum by PCR inOctober 2008 and another two (0.9%) tested positive in April 2009, no clinical malaria cases were detected during weekly visits. Levels of IFN-γ to all antigens decreased significantly from April 2008 to April 2009 (all P < 0.001).
Discussion: Naturally acquired IFN- γ responses to P. falciparum antigensare short-lived in the absence of repeated P. falciparum infection. Even short periods of malaria interruption may significantly decrease IFN-γ responses to P. falciparum antigens.
Keywords: Highland Kenya; Interferon gamma; Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum.