Parity and placental infection affect antibody responses against Plasmodium falciparum during pregnancy

Alfredo Mayor, Eduard Rovira-Vallbona, Sonia Machevo, Quique Bassat, Ruth Aguilar, Llorenç Quintó, Alfons Jiménez, Betuel Sigauque, Carlota Dobaño, Sanjeev Kumar, Bijender Singh, Puneet Gupta, Virander S Chauhan, Chetan E Chitnis, Pedro L Alonso, Clara Menéndez

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


Women are at higher risk of Plasmodium falciparum infection when pregnant. The decreasing risk of malaria with subsequent pregnancies is attributed to parity-dependent acquisition of antibodies against placental parasites expressing variant surface antigens, VAR2CSA, that mediate placental sequestration through adhesion to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA). However, modulation of immunity during pregnancy may also contribute to increase the risk of malaria. We compared antibody responses among 30 Mozambican primigravidae and 60 multigravidae at delivery, 40 men, and 40 children. IgG levels were measured against the surface antigens of erythrocytes infected with P. falciparum isolated from 12 pregnant women (4 placental and 8 peripheral blood isolates) and 26 nonpregnant hosts. We also measured IgG levels against merozoite recombinant antigens and total IgG. Placental P. falciparum infection was associated with increased levels of total IgG as well as IgG levels against merozoite antigens and parasite isolates from pregnant and nonpregnant hosts. We therefore stratified comparisons of antibody levels by placental infection. Compared to multigravidae, uninfected primigravidae had lower total IgG as well as lower levels of IgGs against peripheral blood isolates from both pregnant and nonpregnant hosts. These differences were not explained by use of bed nets, season at delivery, neighborhood of residence, or age. Compared to men, infected primigravidae had higher levels of IgGs against isolates from pregnant women and CSA-binding lines but not against other isolates, supporting the concept of a pregnancy-specific development of immunity to these parasite variants. Results of this study show that parity and placental infection can modulate immune responses during pregnancy against malaria parasites.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1654-1659
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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