Immunity to Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) malaria is only acquired after years of repeated infections and wanes rapidly without ongoing parasite exposure. Antibodies are central to malaria immunity, yet little is known about the B-cell biology that underlies the inefficient acquisition of Pf specific humoral immunity. This year-long prospective study in Mali of 185 individuals aged 2 to 25 years shows that Pf-specific memory B cells and antibodies are acquired gradually in a stepwise fashion over years of repeated Pf exposure. Both Pf-specific memory B cells and antibody titers increased after acute malaria and then, after six months of decreased Pf exposure, contracted to a point slightly higher than pre infection levels. This inefficient, stepwise expansion of both the Pf-specific memory B-cell and long-lived antibody compartments depends on Pf exposure rather than age, based on the comparator response to tetanus vaccination that was efficient and stable. These observations lend new insights into the cellular basis of the delayed acquisition of malaria immunity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology