Understanding the functional characteristics of naturally acquired antibodies against P. falciparum merozoite antigens is crucial for determining the protective functions of antibodies. Affinity (measured as kd) of naturally acquired antibodies against two key targets of acquired immunity, EBA175 and PfRh2, was determined using Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) in a longitudinal survey in Nigeria. A majority of the participants, 79% and 67%, maintained stable antibody affinities to EBA175 and PfRh2, respectively, over time. In about 10% of the individuals, there was a reciprocal interaction with a reduction over time in antibody affinity for PfRh2 and an increase for EBA175. In general, PfRh2 elicited antibodies with higher affinity compared to EBA175. Individuals with higher exposure to malaria produced antibodies with higher affinity to both antigens. Younger individuals (5-15 years) produced comparable or higher affinity antibodies than adults (>15 years) against EBA175, but not for PfRh2. Correlation between total IgG (ELISA) and affinity varied between individuals, but PfRh2 elicited antibodies with a higher correlation in a majority of the participants. There was also a correlation between antibody inhibition of erythrocyte invasion by merozoites and PfRh2 affinity. This work gives new insights into the generation and maintenance of antibody affinity over time.
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