Optimization of an in vivo model to study immunity to Plasmodium falciparum pre-erythrocytic stages

Yevel Flores-Garcia, Sonia M. Herrera, Hugo Jhun, Daniel W. Pérez-Ramos, C. Richter King, Emily Locke, Ramadevi Raghunandan, Fidel Zavala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: The circumsporozoite protein (CSP) of Plasmodium is a key surface antigen that induces antibodies and T-cells, conferring immune protection in animal models and humans. However, much of the work on CSP and immunity has been developed based on studies using rodent or non-human primate CSP antigens, which may not be entirely translatable to CSP expressed by human malaria parasites, especially considering the host specificity of the different species. Methods: Using a genetically engineered strain of Plasmodium berghei that expresses luciferase, GFP and the Plasmodium falciparum orthologue of CSP, the effect of laboratory preparation, mosquito treatment and mouse factors on sporozoite infectivity was assessed using an in vivo bioluminescence assay on mice. This assay was compared with a PCR-based protection assay using an already described monoclonal antibody that can provide sterile protection against sporozoite challenge. Results: Bioluminescence assay demonstrated similar detection levels of the quantity and kinetics of liver-stage infection, compared to PCR-based detection. This assay was used to evaluate treatment of sporozoite and delivery method on mouse infectivity, as well as the effects of age, sex and strain of mice. Finally, this assay was used to test the protective capacity of monoclonal antibody AB317; results strongly recapitulate the findings of previous work on this antibody. Conclusions: The PbGFP-Luc line and in vivo bioluminescence imaging provide highly sensitive read-outs of liver-stage infection in mice, and this method can be useful to reliably evaluate potency of pre-erythrocytic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number426
JournalMalaria journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 18 2019


  • Bioluminescence
  • Malaria
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Transgenic parasite
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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