Published: March 17, 2015
Boyle MJ, Reiling L, Feng G, Langer C, Osier FH, Aspeling-Jones H, Cheng YS, Stubbs J, Tetteh KK, Conway DJ, McCarthy JS, Muller I, Marsh K, Anders RF, Beeson JG. Human antibodies fix complement to inhibit Plasmodium falciparum invasion of erythrocytes and are associated with protection against clinical malaria. Immunity, 2015; 42(3):580-90. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2015.02.012.
Antibodies play major roles in immunity to malaria; however, a limited understanding of mechanisms mediating protection is a major barrier to vaccine development. We have demonstrated that acquired human anti-malarial antibodies promote complement deposition on the merozoite to mediate inhibition of erythrocyte invasion through C1q fixation and activation of the classical complement pathway. Antibody-mediated complement-dependent (Ab-C’) inhibition was the predominant invasion-inhibitory activity of human antibodies; most antibodies were non-inhibitory without complement. Inhibitory activity was mediated predominately via C1q fixation, and merozoite surface proteins 1 and 2 were identified as major targets. Complement fixation by antibodies was very strongly associated with protection from both clinical malaria and high-density parasitemia in a prospective longitudinal study of children. Ab-C’ inhibitory activity could be induced by human immunization with a candidate merozoite surface-protein vaccine. Our findings demonstrate that human anti-malarial antibodies have evolved to function by fixing complement for potent invasion-inhibitory activity and protective immunity.