Chemoprophylaxis Vaccination: Phase I Study to Explore Stage-specific Immunity to Plasmodium falciparum in US Adults

Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Sep 12;71(6):1481-1490. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciz1010.


Background: Chemoprophylaxis vaccination with sporozoites (CVac) with chloroquine induces protection against a homologous Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite (PfSPZ) challenge, but whether blood-stage parasite exposure is required for protection remains unclear. Chloroquine suppresses and clears blood-stage parasitemia, while other antimalarial drugs, such as primaquine, act against liver-stage parasites. Here, we evaluated CVac regimens using primaquine and/or chloroquine as the partner drug to discern whether blood-stage parasite exposure impacts protection against homologous controlled human malaria infection.

Methods: In a Phase I, randomized, partial double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 36 malaria-naive adults, all CVac subjects received chloroquine prophylaxis and bites from 12-15 P. falciparum-infected mosquitoes (CVac-chloroquine arm) at 3 monthly iterations, and some received postexposure primaquine (CVac-primaquine/chloroquine arm). Drug control subjects received primaquine, chloroquine, and uninfected mosquito bites. After a chloroquine washout, subjects, including treatment-naive infectivity controls, underwent homologous, PfSPZ controlled human malaria infection and were monitored for parasitemia for 21 days.

Results: No serious adverse events occurred. During CVac, all but 1 subject in the study remained blood-smear negative, while only 1 subject (primaquine/chloroquine arm) remained polymerase chain reaction-negative. Upon challenge, compared to infectivity controls, 3/3 chloroquine arm subjects displayed delayed patent parasitemia (P = .01) but not sterile protection, while 3/11 primaquine/chloroquine subjects remained blood-smear negative.

Conclusions: CVac-primaquine/chloroquine is safe and induces sterile immunity to P. falciparum in some recipients, but a single 45 mg dose of primaquine postexposure does not completely prevent blood-stage parasitemia. Unlike previous studies, CVac-chloroquine did not produce sterile immunity.

Clinical trials registration: NCT01500980.

Keywords: Plasmodium falciparum; chemoprophylaxis vaccination with sporozoites; chloroquine; malaria; primaquine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antimalarials* / therapeutic use
  • Chemoprevention
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum* / drug therapy
  • Malaria, Falciparum* / prevention & control
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Sporozoites
  • Vaccination


  • Antimalarials

Associated data