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PLoS One 2011 Sep;6(9):e24398

Protection from Experimental Cerebral Malaria with a Single Dose of Radiation-Attenuated, Blood-Stage Plasmodium berghei Parasites.

Gerald NJ, Majam V, Mahajan B, Kozakai Y, Kumar S


BACKGROUND: Whole malaria parasites are highly effective in inducing immunity against malaria. Due to the limited success of subunit based vaccines in clinical studies, there has been a renewed interest in whole parasite-based malaria vaccines. Apart from attenuated sporozoites, there have also been efforts to use live asexual stage parasites as vaccine immunogens. METHODOLOGY AND RESULTS: We used radiation exposure to attenuate the highly virulent asexual blood stages of the murine malaria parasite P. berghei to a non-replicable, avirulent form. We tested the ability of the attenuated blood stage parasites to induce immunity to parasitemia and the symptoms of severe malaria disease. Depending on the mouse genetic background, a single high dose immunization without adjuvant protected mice from parasitemia and severe disease (CD1 mice) or from experimental cerebral malaria (ECM) (C57BL/6 mice). A low dose immunization did not protect against parasitemia or severe disease in either model after one or two immunizations. The protection from ECM was associated with a parasite specific antibody response and also with a lower level of splenic parasite-specific IFN-gamma production, which is a mediator of ECM pathology in C57BL/6 mice. Surprisingly, there was no difference in the sequestration of CD8+ T cells and CD45+ CD11b+ macrophages in the brains of immunized, ECM-protected mice. CONCLUSIONS: This report further demonstrates the effectiveness of a whole parasite blood-stage vaccine in inducing immunity to malaria and explicitly demonstrates its effectiveness against ECM, the most pathogenic consequence of malaria infection. This experimental model will be important to explore the formulation of whole parasite blood-stage vaccines against malaria and to investigate the immune mechanisms that mediate protection against parasitemia and cerebral malaria.

Category: Journal Article
PubMed ID: #21935405 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024398
PubMed Central ID: #PMC3174172
Includes FDA Authors from Scientific Area(s): Biologics
Entry Created: 2011-10-03 Entry Last Modified: 2012-08-29