Published: August 24, 2022
Cutts JC, O’Flaherty K, Zaloumis SG, Ashley EA, Chan JA, Onyamboko MA, Fanello C, Dondorp AM, Day NP, Phyo AP, Dhorda M, Imwong M, Fairhurst RM, Lim P, Amaratunga C, Pukrittayakamee S, Hien TT, Htut Y, Mayxay M, Faiz MA, Takashima E, Tsuboi T, Beeson JG, Nosten F, Simpson JA, White NJ, Fowkes FJI. Comparison of Antibody Responses and Parasite Clearance in Artemisinin Therapeutic Efficacy Studies in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Asia. J Infect Dis. 2022 Aug 24;226(2):324-331. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiac232. PMID: 35703955; PMCID: PMC9400417.
Understanding the effect of immunity on Plasmodium falciparum clearance is essential for interpreting therapeutic efficacy studies designed to monitor emergence of artemisinin drug resistance. In low-transmission areas of Southeast Asia, where resistance has emerged, P. falciparum antibodies confound parasite clearance measures. However, variation in naturally acquired antibodies across Asian and sub-Saharan African epidemiological contexts and their impact on parasite clearance re yet to be quantified.
In an artemisinin therapeutic efficacy study, antibodies to 12 pre-erythrocytic and erythrocytic P. falciparum antigens were measured in 118 children with uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and compared with responses in patients from Asian sites, described elsewhere.
Parasite clearance half-life was shorter in DRC patients (median, 2 hours) compared with most Asian sites (median, 2-7 hours), but P. falciparum antibody levels and seroprevalences were similar. There was no evidence for an association between antibody seropositivity and parasite clearance half-life (mean difference between seronegative and seropositive, -0.14 to +0.40 hour) in DRC patients.
In DRC, where artemisinin remains highly effective, the substantially shorter parasite clearance time compared with Asia was not explained by differences in the P. falciparum antibody responses studied.