Longitudinal analysis of naturally acquired PfEMP1 CIDR domain variant antibodies identifies associations with malaria protection

JCI Insight. 2020 Jun 18;5(12):e137262. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.137262.


BACKGROUNDMalaria pathogenicity is determined, in part, by the adherence of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes to the microvasculature mediated via specific interactions between P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein (PfEMP1) variant domains and host endothelial receptors. Naturally acquired antibodies against specific PfEMP1 variants can play an important role in clinical protection against malaria.METHODSWe evaluated IgG responses against a repertoire of PfEMP1 CIDR domain variants to determine the rate and order of variant-specific antibody acquisition and their association with protection against febrile malaria in a prospective cohort study conducted in an area of intense, seasonal malaria transmission.RESULTSUsing longitudinal data, we found that IgG antibodies against the pathogenic domain variants CIDRα1.7 and CIDRα1.8 were acquired the earliest. Furthermore, IgG antibodies against CIDRγ3 were associated with reduced prospective risk of febrile malaria and recurrent malaria episodes.CONCLUSIONThis study provides evidence that acquisition of IgG antibodies against PfEMP1 variants is ordered and demonstrates that antibodies against CIDRα1 domains are acquired the earliest in children residing in an area of intense, seasonal malaria transmission. Future studies will need to validate these findings in other transmission settings and determine the functional activity of these naturally acquired CIDR variant-specific antibodies.TRIAL REGISTRATIONClinicalTrials.gov NCT01322581.FUNDINGDivision of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH.

Keywords: Adaptive immunity; Immunoglobulins; Immunology; Infectious disease; Malaria.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Protozoan / blood
  • Erythrocytes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood*
  • Malaria / immunology*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / immunology*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / immunology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Protozoan Proteins / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Protozoan Proteins

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01322581