One of the difficulties in developing an effective malaria vaccine is the antigenic change of the parasite during the life cycle. It is desirable that vaccine-induced protective immunity be effective at different stages of parasite development. Merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) is a candidate vaccine antigen against blood-stage malaria, but it is also expressed in the exoerythrocytic forms. It was not known, however, whether the anti-MSP1 immune response is effective against the liver-stage malaria parasite. We generated a recombinant protein of MSP1 fused to heat-shock cognate protein 70 (hsc70) and studied its vaccination effect. When C57BL/6 mice were immunized with the fusion protein prior to challenge infection with Plasmodium yoelii sporozoites, the onset of parasitemia was delayed or no parasitemia was observed. To determine whether this was due to the protective immunity against liver-stage parasites, P. yoelii-specific rRNA in the infected liver was quantitated by real-time reverse transcription-PCR analysis. The level of parasite-specific rRNA was reduced in mice immunized with the fusion protein of MSP1 and hsc70 but not with hsc70 alone, indicating that MSP1-specific immunity can be protective against the exoerythrocytic form of the parasite. Furthermore, the adoptive transfer experiments of immune lymphocytes and serum into naive mice suggested that the protective immunity was dependent on cellular and not humoral immunity. Finally, the vaccine-induced protection was also observed in A/J, C3H, and BALB/c mice, suggesting that MSP1-specific protective immunity at the exoerythrocytic stage can be induced in animals over a wide range of genetic backgrounds.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases