Pfs230 yields higher malaria transmission-blocking vaccine activity than Pfs25 in humans but not mice

J Clin Invest. 2021 Apr 1;131(7):e146221. doi: 10.1172/JCI146221.


BACKGROUNDVaccines that block human-to-mosquito Plasmodium transmission are needed for malaria eradication, and clinical trials have targeted zygote antigen Pfs25 for decades. We reported that a Pfs25 protein-protein conjugate vaccine formulated in alum adjuvant induced serum functional activity in both US and Malian adults. However, antibody levels declined rapidly, and transmission-reducing activity required 4 vaccine doses. Functional immunogenicity and durability must be improved before advancing transmission-blocking vaccines further in clinical development. We hypothesized that the prefertilization protein Pfs230 alone or in combination with Pfs25 would improve functional activity.METHODSTransmission-blocking vaccine candidates based on gamete antigen Pfs230 or Pfs25 were conjugated with Exoprotein A, formulated in Alhydrogel, and administered to mice, rhesus macaques, and humans. Antibody levels were measured by ELISA and transmission-reducing activity was assessed by the standard membrane feeding assay.RESULTSPfs25-EPA/Alhydrogel and Pfs230D1-EPA/Alhydrogel induced similar serum functional activity in mice, but Pfs230D1-EPA induced significantly greater activity in rhesus monkeys that was enhanced by complement. In US adults, 2 vaccine doses induced complement-dependent activity in 4 of 5 Pfs230D1-EPA/Alhydrogel recipients but no significant activity in 5 Pfs25-EPA recipients, and combination with Pfs25-EPA did not increase activity over Pfs230D1-EPA alone.CONCLUSIONThe complement-dependent functional immunogenicity of Pfs230D1-EPA represents a significant improvement over Pfs25-EPA in this comparative study. The rhesus model is more predictive of the functional human immune response to Pfs230D1 than is the mouse model.TRIAL NCT02334462.FUNDINGIntramural Research Program of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

Keywords: Infectious disease; Malaria; Vaccines.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aluminum Hydroxide / administration & dosage*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / immunology*
  • Antigens, Protozoan / administration & dosage*
  • Antigens, Protozoan / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Malaria Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Malaria Vaccines / immunology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / prevention & control
  • Malaria, Falciparum / transmission
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Plasmodium falciparum / immunology*
  • Protozoan Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Protozoan Proteins / immunology


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Malaria Vaccines
  • Pfs230 antigen, Plasmodium falciparum
  • Pfs25 protein, Plasmodium falciparum
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Aluminum Hydroxide

Associated data