Differential recognition of P. falciparum VAR2CSA domains by naturally acquired antibodies in pregnant women from a malaria endemic area.
ABSTRACT: Plasmodium falciparum infected red blood cells (iRBC) express variant surface antigens (VSA) of which VAR2CSA is involved in placental sequestration and causes pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM). Primigravidae are most susceptible to PAM whereas antibodies associated with protection are often present at higher levels in multigravid women. However, HIV co-infection with malaria has been shown to alter this parity-dependent acquisition of immunity, with more severe symptoms as well as more malaria episodes in HIV positive women versus HIV negative women of a similar parity.Using VAR2CSA DBL-domains expressed on the surface of CHO-745 cells we quantified levels of DBL-domain specific IgG in sera from pregnant Malawian women by flow cytometry. Dissociations constants of DBL5epsilon specific antibodies were determined using a surface plasmon resonance technique, as an indication of antibody affinities.VAR2CSA DBL5epsilon was recognized in a gender and parity-dependent manner with anti-DBL5epsilon IgG correlating significantly with IgG levels to VSA-PAM on the iRBC surface. HIV positive women had lower levels of anti-DBL5epsilon IgG than HIV negative women of similar parity. In primigravidae, antibodies in HIV positive women also showed significantly lower affinity to VAR2CSA DBL5epsilon.Pregnant women from a malaria-endemic area had increased levels of anti-DBL5epsilon IgG by parity, indicating this domain of VAR2CSA to be a promising vaccine candidate against PAM. However, it is important to consider co-infection with HIV, as this seems to change the properties of antibody response against malaria. Understanding the characteristics of antibody response against VAR2CSA is undoubtedly imperative in order to design a functional and efficient vaccine against PAM.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Primigravid (PG) women are at risk for pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM). Multigravid (MG) women acquire protection against PAM; however, HIV infection impairs this protective response. Protection against PAM is associated with the production of IgG specific for variant surface antigens (VSA-PAM) expressed by chondroitin sulfate A (CSA)-adhering parasitized erythrocytes (PEs). We hypothesized that VSA-PAM-specific IgG confers protection by promoting opsonic phagocytosis of PAM isolates and that HIV infection impairs this response. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We assessed the ability of VSA-PAM-specific IgG to promote opsonic phagocytosis of CSA-adhering PEs and the impact of HIV infection on this process. Opsonic phagocytosis assays were performed using the CSA-adherent parasite line CS2 and human and murine macrophages. CS2 PEs were opsonized with plasma or purified IgG subclasses from HIV-negative or HIV-infected PG and MG Kenyan women or sympatric men. Levels of IgG subclasses specific for VSA-PAM were compared in HIV-negative and HIV-infected women by flow cytometry. Plasma from HIV-negative MG women, but not PG women or men, promoted the opsonic phagocytosis of CSA-binding PEs (p < 0.001). This function depended on VSA-PAM-specific plasma IgG1 and IgG3. HIV-infected MG women had significantly lower plasma opsonizing activity (median phagocytic index 46 [interquartile range (IQR) 18-195] versus 251 [IQR 93-397], p = 0.006) and levels of VSA-PAM-specific IgG1 (mean fluorescence intensity [MFI] 13 [IQR 11-20] versus 30 [IQR 23-41], p < 0.001) and IgG3 (MFI 17 [IQR 14-23] versus 28 [IQR 23-37], p < 0.001) than their HIV-negative MG counterparts. CONCLUSIONS: Opsonic phagocytosis may represent a novel correlate of protection against PAM. HIV infection may increase the susceptibility of multigravid women to PAM by impairing this clearance mechanism.
Project description:Pregnancy-associated Plasmodium falciparum malaria (PAM) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in African women and their offspring. PAM is characterized by accumulation of infected erythrocytes (IEs) that adhere to chondroitin sulphate A (CSA) in the placental intervillous space. We show here that human monoclonal IgG antibodies with specificity for variant surface antigens (VSA) specifically expressed by CSA-adhering IEs (VSAPAM) can be used in vitro to select parasites from nonpregnant donors to express VSAPAM and that this selection for VSAPAM expression results in preferential transcription of var2csa. The results corroborate current efforts to develop PAM-specific vaccines based on VAR2CSA.
Project description:Pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) is caused by Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes (IEs) that bind to chondroitin sulphate A (CSA) in the placenta by PAM-associated clonally variant surface antigens (VSA). Pregnancy-specific VSA (VSA(PAM)), which include the PfEMP1 variant VAR2CSA, are targets of IgG-mediated protective immunity to PAM. Here, we report an investigation of the specificity of naturally acquired immunity to PAM, using eight human monoclonal IgG1 antibodies that react exclusively with intact CSA-adhering IEs expressing VSA(PAM). Four reacted in Western blotting with high-molecular-weight (> 200 kDa) proteins, while seven reacted with either the DBL3-X or the DBL5-epsilon domains of VAR2CSA expressed either as Baculovirus constructs or on the surface of transfected Jurkat cells. We used a panel of recombinant antigens representing DBL3-X domains from P. falciparum field isolates to evaluate B-cell epitope diversity among parasite isolates, and identified the binding site of one monoclonal antibody using a chimeric DBL3-X construct. Our findings show that there is a high-frequency memory response to VSA(PAM), indicating that VAR2CSA is a primary target of naturally acquired PAM-specific protective immunity, and demonstrate the value of human monoclonal antibodies and conformationally intact recombinant antigens in VSA characterization.
Project description: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.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Pregnant women acquire protective antibodies that cross-react with geographically diverse placental Plasmodium falciparum isolates, suggesting that surface molecules expressed on infected erythrocytes by pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) parasites have conserved epitopes and, that designing a PAM vaccine may be envisaged. VAR2CSA is the main candidate for a pregnancy malaria vaccine, but vaccine development may be complicated by its sequence polymorphism. METHODS: The dynamics of P. falciparum genotypes during pregnancy in 32 women in relation to VAR2CSA polymorphism and immunity was determined. The polymorphism of the msp2 gene and five microsatellites was analysed in consecutive parasite isolates, and the DBL5epsilon + Interdomain 5 (Id5) part of the var2csa gene of the corresponding samples was cloned and sequenced to measure variation. RESULTS: In primigravidae, the multiplicity of infection in the placenta was associated with occurrence of low birth weight babies. Some parasite genotypes were able to persist over several weeks and, still be present in the placenta at delivery particularly when the host anti-VAR2CSA antibody level was low. Comparison of diversity among genotyping markers confirmed that some PAM parasites may harbour more than one var2csa gene copy in their genome. CONCLUSIONS: Host immunity to VAR2CSA influences the parasite dynamics during pregnancy, suggesting that the acquisition of protective immunity requires pre-exposure to a limited number of parasite variants. Presence of highly conserved residues in surface-exposed areas of the VAR2CSA immunodominant DBL5epsilon domain, suggest its potential in inducing antibodies with broad reactivity.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Maternal malaria is a tropical scourge associated with poor pregnancy outcomes. Women become resistant to Plasmodium falciparum pregnancy malaria as they acquire antibodies to the variant surface antigen VAR2CSA, a leading vaccine candidate. Because malaria infection may increase VAR2CSA antibody levels and thereby confound analyses of immune protection, gravidity-dependent changes in antibody levels during and after infection, and the effect of VAR2CSA antibodies on pregnancy outcomes were evaluated. METHODS:Pregnant women enrolled in a longitudinal cohort study of mother-infant pairs in Ouelessebougou, Mali provided plasma samples at enrollment, gestational week 30-32, and delivery. Antibody levels to VAR2CSA domains were measured using a multiplex bead-based assay. RESULTS:Antibody levels to VAR2CSA were higher in multigravidae than primigravidae. Malaria infection was associated with increased antibody levels to VAR2CSA domains. In primigravidae but not in secundigravidae or multigravidae, antibodies levels sharply declined after an infection. A relationship between any VAR2CSA antibody specificity and protection from adverse pregnancy outcomes was not detected. CONCLUSIONS:During malaria infection, primigravidae acquire short-lived antibodies. The lack of an association between VAR2CSA domain antibody reactivity and improved pregnancy outcomes suggests that the recombinant proteins may not present native epitopes targeted by protective antibodies.
Project description:During pregnancy, Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes (IE) accumulate in the intervillous spaces of the placenta by binding to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA) and elicit inflammatory responses that are associated with poor pregnancy outcomes. Primigravidae lack immunity to IE that sequester in the placenta and thus are susceptible to placental malaria (PM). Women become resistant to PM over successive pregnancies as antibodies to placental IE are acquired. Here, we assayed plasma collected at delivery from Malian and Tanzanian women of different parities for total antibody levels against recombinant VAR2CSA antigens (FCR3 allele), and for surface reactivity and binding inhibition and opsonizing functional activities against IE using two CSA-binding laboratory isolates (FCR3 and NF54). Overall, antibody reactivity to VAR2CSA recombinant proteins and to CSA-binding IE was higher in multigravidae than in primigravidae. However, plasma from Malian gravid women reacted more strongly with FCR3 whereas Tanzanian plasma preferentially reacted with NF54. Further, acquisition of functional antibodies was variant dependent: binding inhibition of P. falciparum strain NF54 (P?<?0.001) but not of the strain FCR3 increased significantly with parity, while only opsonizing activity against FCR3 (P?<?0.001) increased significantly with parity. In addition, opsonizing and binding inhibition activities of plasma of multigravidae were significantly correlated in assays of FCR3 (r?=?0.4, P?=?0.01) but not of NF54 isolates; functional activities did not correlate in plasma from primigravidae. These data suggest that IE surface-expressed epitopes involved in each functional activity differ among P. falciparum strains. Consequently, geographic bias in circulating strains may impact antibody functions. Our study has implications for the development of PM vaccines aiming to achieve broad protection against various parasite strains.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Protection against pregnancy associated malaria (PAM) is associated with high levels of anti-VAR2CSA antibodies. This protection is obtained by the parity dependent acquisition of anti-VAR2CSA antibodies. Distinct parity-associated molecular signatures have been identified in VAR2CSA domains. These two observations combined point to the importance of identifying VAR2CSA sequence variation, which facilitate parasitic evasion or subversion of host immune response. Highly conserved domains of VAR2CSA such as DBL5? are likely to contain conserved epitopes, and therefore do constitute attractive targets for vaccine development. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: VAR2CSA DBL5?-domain sequences obtained from cDNA of 40 placental isolates were analysed by a combination of experimental and in silico methods. Competition ELISA assays on two DBL5? variants, using plasma samples from women from two different areas and specific mice hyperimmune plasma, indicated that DBL5? possess conserved and cross-reactive B cell epitopes. Peptide ELISA identified conserved areas that are recognised by naturally acquired antibodies. Specific antibodies against these peptides labelled the native proteins on the surface of placental parasites. Despite high DBL5? sequence homology among parasite isolates, sequence analyses identified motifs in DBL5? that discriminate parasites according to donor's parity. Moreover, recombinant proteins of two VAR2CSA DBL5? variants displayed diverse recognition patterns by plasma from malaria-exposed women, and diverse proteoglycan binding abilities. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This study provides insights into conserved and exposed B cell epitopes in DBL5? that might be a focus for cross reactivity. The importance of sequence variation in VAR2CSA as a critical challenge for vaccine development is highlighted. VAR2CSA conformation seems to be essential to its functionality. Therefore, identification of sequence variation sites in distinct locations within VAR2CSA, affecting antigenicity and/or binding properties, is critical to the effort of developing an efficient VAR2CSA-based vaccine. Motifs associated with parasite segregation according to parity constitute one such site.
Project description:Intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) and insecticide-treated bed nets are the standard of care for preventing malaria in pregnant women. Since these preventive measures reduce exposure to malaria, their influence on the antibody (Ab) response to the parasite antigen VAR2CSA was evaluated in pregnant Cameroonian women exposed to holoendemic malaria. Ab levels to full-length VAR2CSA (FV2), variants of the six Duffy binding like (DBL) domains, and proportion of high avidity Ab to FV2 were measured longitudinally in 92 women before and 147 women after IPT. As predicted, reduced exposure interfered with acquisition of Ab in primigravidae, with 71% primigravidae being seronegative to FV2 at delivery. Use of IPT for > 13 weeks by multigravidae resulted in 26% of women being seronegative at delivery and a significant reduction in Ab levels to FV2, DBL5, DBL6, proportion of high avidity Ab to FV2, and number of variants recognized. Thus, in women using IPT important immune responses were not acquired by primigravidae and reduced in a portion of multigravidae, especially women with one to two previous pregnancies. Longitudinal data from individual multigravidae on IPT suggest that lower Ab levels most likely resulted from lack of boosting of the VAR2CSA response and not from a short-lived Ab response.
Project description:The harmful effects of pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) are engendered by the heavy sequestration of Plasmodium falciparum-parasitized RBCs in the placenta. It is well documented that this process is mediated by interactions of parasite-encoded variant surface antigens and placental receptors. A P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 variant, VAR2CSA, and the placental receptor chondroitin sulfate A (CSA) are currently the focus of PAM research. A role for immunoglobulins (IgG and IgM) from normal human serum and hyaluronic acid as additional receptors in placental sequestration have also been suggested. We show here (i) that CSA and nonimmune IgG/IgM binding are linked phenotypes of in vitro-adapted parasites, (ii) that a VAR2CSA variant shown to bind CSA also harbors IgG- and IgM-binding domains (DBL2-X, DBL5-epsilon, and DBL6-epsilon), and (iii) that IgG and IgM binding and adhesion to multiple receptors (IgG/IgM/HA/CSA) rather than the exclusive binding to CSA is a characteristic of fresh Ugandan placental isolates. These findings are of importance for the understanding of the pathogenesis of placental malaria and have implications for the ongoing efforts to develop a global PAM vaccine.