Immunization with a combination of merozoite surface proteins 4/5 and 1 enhances protection against lethal challenge with Plasmodium yoelii

Lukasz Kedzierski, Casilda G. Black, Matthew W. Goschnick, Anthony W. Stowers, Ross L. Coppel

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It is widely believed that subunit vaccines composed of multiple components will offer greater protection against challenge by malaria, and yet there is little experimental evidence to support this view. We set out to test this proposition in the Plasmodium yoelii challenge system in rodents by comparing the degree of protection conferred by immunization with a mixture of merozoite surface proteins to that conferred by single proteins. We therefore examined a defined protein mixture made of the epidermal growth factor-like domains of P. yoelli merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) and MSP4/5, the homologue of P. falciparum MSP4 and MSP5. In the present study we demonstrate that this combination of recombinant proteins dramatically enhances protection against lethal malaria challenge compared to either protein administered alone. Many mice immunized with the MSP4/5 plus MSP119 combination did not develop detectable parasitemia after challenge. Combined immunization with MSP119 and yMSP4/5, a product characterized by lower protective efficacy, also greatly enhanced protection by reducing peak parasitemias and increasing the numbers of survivors. In some combination trials, levels of antibodies to MSP119 were elevated compared to the MSP119 alone group; however, improved protection occurred regardless of whether boosting of the anti-MSP119 response was observed. Boosting of anti-MSP119 did not appear to be due to contaminating endotoxin in the EcMSP4/5 material since enhanced protection was observed in C3H/HeJ mice, which are endotoxin insensitive. Collectively, these experiments show that multiantigen combinations offer enhanced levels of protection against asexual stage infection and suggest that combinations of MSP1, MSP4, and MSP5 should be evaluated further for use in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6606-6613
Number of pages8
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2002

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