Malaria is one of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world. Immune responses to Plasmodium falciparum malaria vary among individuals and between populations. Human genetic variation in immune system genes is likely to play a role in this heterogeneity. Natural killer (NK) cells produce inflammatory cytokines in response to malaria infection, kill intraerythrocytic Plasmodium falciparum parasites by cytolysis, and participate in the initiation and development of adaptive immune responses to plasmodial infection.
The continuous increase in long-distance travel and recent large migratory movements have changed the epidemiological characteristics of imported malaria in countries where malaria is not endemic (here termed non-malaria-endemic countries). While malaria was primarily imported to nonendemic countries by returning travelers, the proportion of immigrants from malaria-endemic regions and travelers visiting friends and relatives (VFRs) in malaria-endemic countries has continued to increase.
The surface protein Pfs47 allows Plasmodium falciparum parasites to survive and be transmitted by making them “undetectable” to the mosquito immune system. P. falciparum parasites express Pfs47 haplotypes compatible with their sympatric vectors, while those with incompatible haplotypes are eliminated by the mosquito. We proposed that Pfs47 serves as a “key” that mediates immune evasion by interacting with a mosquito receptor “the lock,” which differs in evolutionarily divergent anopheline mosquitoes. Recombinant Pfs47 (rPfs47) was used to identify the mosquito Pfs47 receptor protein (P47Rec) using far-Western analysis.
Despite being in the midst of a global pandemic of infections caused by the pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis, a vaccine capable of inducing protective immunity remains elusive. Given the C. trachomatis mucosal port of entry, a formulation compatible with mucosal administration and capable of eliciting potent genital tract immunity is highly desirable. While subunit vaccines are considered safer and better tolerated, these are typically poorly immunogenic and require co-formulation with immune-potentiating adjuvants.
Developing efficacious vaccines for human malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum is a major global health priority, although this has proven to be immensely challenging over the decades. One major hindrance is the incomplete understanding of specific immune responses that confer protection against disease and/or infection. While antibodies to play a crucial role in malaria immunity, the functional mechanisms of these antibodies remain unclear as most research has primarily focused on the direct inhibitory or neutralizing activity of antibodies.
While the first global effort coordinated by the World Health Organization to eradicate malaria ended in failure in 1969, there is now renewed hope and intent in 2019, based on scientific advances and reinvigorated political will, that this infectious disease can be eliminated at a global level in the 21st century.
Erythrocyte-binding-like (EBL) proteins are known to play an important role in malaria parasite invasion of red blood cells (RBCs); however, any roles of EBL proteins in regulating host immune responses remain unknown. Here, we show that Plasmodium yoelii EBL (PyEBL) can shape disease severity by modulating the surface structure of infected RBCs (iRBCs) and host immune responses. We identified an amino acid substitution (a change of C to Y at position 741 [C741Y]) in the protein trafficking domain of PyEBL between isogenic P. yoellii nigeriensis strain N67 and N67C parasites that produce different disease phenotypes in C57BL/6 mice.
The circumsporozoite protein (CSP) of Plasmodium is a key surface antigen that induces antibodies and T-cells, conferring immune protection in animal models and humans. However, much of the work on CSP and immunity has been developed based on studies using rodent or non-human primate CSP antigens, which may not be entirely translatable to CSP expressed by human malaria parasites, especially considering the host specificity of the different species.
The efficient spread of malaria from infected humans to mosquitoes is a major challenge for malaria elimination initiatives. Gametocytes are the only Plasmodium life stage infectious to mosquitoes. Here, we summarize evidence for naturally acquired anti‐gametocyte immunity and the current state of transmission blocking vaccines (TBV). Although gametocytes are intra‐erythrocytic when present in infected humans, developing Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes may express proteins on the surface of red blood cells that elicit immune responses in naturally exposed individuals.
SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO AVOID THE IMMUNITY TRAP
Inherent in a strategy which requires repeated application of temporary control methods, is the specter of the Immunity Trap. After several years of suppressing malaria transmission by temporary methods, if the methods are suspended for any reason, the previously protected population will be extremely vulnerable to acute disease and death because they will have lost their immunity. The longer the temporary methods are used, the greater will be the risk for the population to fall into the Immunity Trap.