The RTS,S/AS01E vaccine has shown consistent but partial vaccine efficacy in a pediatric phase 3 clinical trial using a 3-dose immunization schedule. A fourth-dose 18 months after the primary vaccination was shown to restore the waning efficacy. However, only total IgG against the immunodominant malaria vaccine epitope has been analyzed following the booster. To better characterize the magnitude, nature, and longevity of the immune response to the booster, we measured levels of total IgM, IgG, and IgG1-4 subclasses against three constructs of the circumsporozoite protein (CSP) and the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg, also present in RTS,S) by quantitative suspension array technology in 50 subjects in the phase 3 trial in Manhica, Mozambique. To explore the impact of vaccination on naturally acquired immune responses, we measured antibodies to P. falciparum antigens not included in RTS,S. We found increased IgG, IgG1, IgG3 and IgG4, but not IgG2 nor IgM, levels against vaccine antigens 1 month after the fourth dose. Overall, antibody responses to the booster dose were lower than the initial peak response to primary immunization and children had higher IgG and IgG1 levels than infants. Higher anti-Rh5 IgG and IgG1-4 levels were detected after the booster dose, suggesting that RTS,S partial protection could increase some blood stage antibody responses. Our work shows that the response to the RTS,S/AS01E booster dose is different from the primary vaccine immune response and highlights the dynamic changes in subclass antibody patterns upon the vaccine booster and with acquisition of adaptive immunity to malaria.
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