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Cohort study of the association of antibody levels to AMA1, MSP119, MSP3 and GLURP with protection from clinical malaria in Ghanaian children

Daniel Dodoo1*, Anastasia Aikins1, Kwadwo Asamoah Kusi12, Helena Lamptey1, Ed Remarque2, Paul Milligan3, Samuel Bosomprah4, Roma Chilengi5, Yaa Difie Osei6, Bartholomew Dicky Akanmori1 and Michael Theisen7

Author Affiliations

1 Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana

2 Department of Parasitology Biomedical Primate Research Centre Lange Kleiweg, 139 2288 GJ, Rijswijk, The Netherlands

3 Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK

4 Ministry of Health, P.O. Box M44, Accra, Ghana

5 The African Malaria Network Trust, Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology Building, P.O. Box 33207, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

6 Department of Biochemistry, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana

7 Department of Infectious Disease Immunology, State Serum Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark

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Malaria Journal 2008, 7:142  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-7-142

Published: 29 July 2008



Antigen-specific antibody-mediated immune responses play an important role in natural protection against clinical malaria, but conflicting estimates of this association have emerged from immuno-epidemiological studies in different geographical settings. This study was aimed at assessing in a standardized manner the relationship between the antibody responses to four malaria vaccine candidate antigens and protection from clinical malaria, in a cohort of Ghanaian children.


Standardized ELISA protocols were used to measure isotype and IgG subclass levels to Apical Membrane Antigen 1 (AMA1), Merozoite Surface Protein 1–19 (MSP119), Merozoite Surface Protein 3 (MSP3) and Glutamate Rich Protein (GLURP) antigens in plasma samples from 352 Ghanaian children, aged three to 10 years with subsequent malaria surveillance for nine months. This is one of a series of studies in different epidemiological settings using the same standardized ELISA protocols to permit comparisons of results from different laboratories.


The incidence rate of malaria was 0.35 episodes per child per year. Isotype and IgG subclasses for all antigens investigated increased with age, while the risk of malaria decreased with age. After adjusting for age, higher levels of IgG to GLURP, MSP119, MSP3 and IgM to MSP119, MSP3 and AMA1 were associated with decreased malaria incidence. Of the IgG subclasses, only IgG1 to MSP119 was associated with reduced incidence of clinical malaria. A previous study in the same location failed to find an association of antibodies to MSP119 with clinical malaria. The disagreement may be due to differences in reagents, ELISA and analytical procedures used in the two studies. When IgG, IgM and IgG subclass levels for all four antigens were included in a combined model, only IgG1 [(0.80 (0.67–0.97), p = 0.018)] and IgM [(0.48 (0.32–0.72), p < 0.001)] to MSP119 were independently associated with protection from malaria.


Using standardized procedures, the study has confirmed the importance of antibodies to MSP119 in reducing the risk of clinical malaria in Ghanaian children, thus substantiating its potential as a malaria vaccine candidate.