Background: Complement-fixing antibodies are important mediators of protection against Plasmodium falciparum malaria. However, complement-fixing antibodies remain uncharacterized for Plasmodium vivax malaria. P. vivax merozoite surface protein 3α (PvMSP3α) is a target of acquired immunity and a potential vaccine candidate.
Methods: Plasma from children and adults with P. vivax malaria in Sabah, Malaysia, were collected during acute infection, 7 and 28 days after drug treatment. Complement-fixing antibodies and immunoglobulin M and G (IgM and IgG), targeting 3 distinctive regions of PvMSP3α, were measured by means of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results: The seroprevalence of complement-fixing antibodies was highest against the PvMSP3α central region (77.6%). IgG1, IgG3, and IgM were significantly correlated with C1q fixation, and both purified IgG and IgM were capable of mediating C1q fixation to PvMSP3α. Complement-fixing antibody levels were similar between age groups, but IgM was predominant in children and IgG3 more prevalent in adults. Levels of functional antibodies increased after acute infection through 7 days after treatment but rapidly waned by day 28.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that PvMSP3α antibodies acquired during P. vivax infection can mediate complement fixation and shows the important influence of age in shaping these specific antibody responses. Further studies are warranted to understand the role of these functional antibodies in protective immunity against P. vivax malaria.