Publications & Reports

Antibodies to variant surface antigens of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes and adhesion inhibitory antibodies are associated with placental malaria and have overlapping and distinct targets.

James G Beeson, Emily J Mann, Salenna R Elliott, Valentino M Lema, Eyob Tadesse, Malcolm E Molyneux, Graham V Brown, Stephen J Rogerson
Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria, Australia. [email protected]


We measured antibodies to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA)-binding and placental Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells (PRBCs) among pregnant women with or without placental malaria.

Immunoglobulin G to PRBC surface antigens was rare in uninfected primigravidae (3.7%), more prevalent in infected primigravidae (70%; P<.001), and common in infected (77%) and uninfected (83%) multigravidae.

Similar patterns were seen for agglutinating antibodies, and antibodies were similar among women with past or active placental infection.

PRBC adhesion to CSA was inhibited 60% by serum from infected primigravidae but 24% by serum from uninfected primigravidae (P=.025), whereas infection did not alter adhesion inhibition by multigravidae (77% inhibition)[corrected].

There was substantial heterogeneity in antibody type and levels. Antibodies did not correlate with parasite density or pregnancy outcome.

Comparisons between antibodies suggest that adhesion-inhibitory antibodies and those to PRBC variant antigens have distinct and overlapping epitopes, may be acquired independently, and have different roles in immunity.


  • Journal: The Journal of infectious diseases
  • Published: 01/02/2004
  • Volume: 189
  • Issue: 3
  • Pagination: 540-551