Characterizing Antibody Responses to Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum Antigens in India Using Genome-Scale Protein Microarrays

Citation: Uplekar S, Rao PN, Ramanathapuram L, Awasthi V, Verma K, Sutton P, et al. (2017) Characterizing Antibody Responses to Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum Antigens in India Using Genome-Scale Protein Microarrays. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 11(1): e0005323. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0005323
Published: January 24, 2017

Understanding naturally acquired immune responses to Plasmodium in India is key to improving malaria surveillance and diagnostic tools. Here we describe serological profiling of immune responses at three sites in India by probing protein microarrays consisting of 515 Plasmodium vivax and 500 Plasmodium falciparum proteins with 353 plasma samples. A total of 236 malaria-positive (symptomatic and asymptomatic) plasma samples and 117 malaria-negative samples were collected at three field sites in Raurkela, Nadiad, and Chennai. Indian samples showed significant seroreactivity to 265 P. vivax and 373 P. falciparum antigens, but overall seroreactivity to P. vivax antigens was lower compared to P. falciparum antigens. We identified the most immunogenic antigens of both Plasmodium species that were recognized at all three sites in India, as well as P. falciparum antigens that were associated with asymptomatic malaria. This is the first genome-scale analysis of serological responses to the two major species of malaria parasite in India. The range of immune responses characterized in different endemic settings argues for targeted surveillance approaches tailored to the diverse epidemiology of malaria across the world.

Author Summary: Although malaria deaths have fallen by 60% worldwide since 2000, the disease remains a significant public health problem. India has the highest burden of malaria in the South-East Asia Region, where Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum are its main causes. While the two major malaria parasite species co-occur in India, their proportion varies across the country. Antibodies in an individual indicate current or past Plasmodium infection, and can be used to identify suitable vaccine candidates, as well as develop novel tools for malaria surveillance. We present the results of a pilot study undertaking the first large-scale characterization of antibody responses to ~1000 Plasmodium antigens at three field sites in India using high-throughput protein microarray technology. Individuals from the eco-epidemiologically diverse sites showed reactivity to 265 P. vivax and 373 P. falciparum antigens, regardless of infection status. Further comparison of individuals with symptomatic and asymptomatic malaria revealed the most immunogenic Plasmodium antigens, as well as antigens that were recognized with greater intensity in individuals that were asymptomatic at the point of sample collection. These results are a valuable addition to existing data from other malaria endemic regions, and will help to expand our understanding of host immunity against the disease.


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