Background: Antibodies to blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum antigens have been associated with protection against clinical malaria in some studies but not others. Many of these studies have not assessed whether high-titer antibodies are associated with protection and have not adjusted for differences in malaria exposure.
Methods: The presence of high-titer antibodies to apical membrane antigen-1, erythrocyte-binding antigen-175 (EBA-175), and merozoite surface protein-119 (MSP-119) was assessed in 87 children living in a malaria holoendemic area of Kenya. The children were prospectively assessed during 1 year for clinical malaria.
Results: In unadjusted analyses, high-titer antibodies to MSP-119, but not EBA-175 or apical membrane antigen-1, were associated with protection from clinical malaria. However, after adjustment for exposure, only high-titer antibodies to EBA-175 were associated with protection from clinical malaria (hazard ratio, 0.48; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.24, 0.95; P = 0.03), and with reduced episodes of clinical malaria (incidence rate ratio, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.31, 0.81; P = 0.005). A trend toward increased protection from clinical malaria in children was seen with antibodies to both EBA-175 and MSP-119 (hazard ratio, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.03, 1.94; P = 0.18).
Conclusions: High-titer antibodies to EBA-175 are associated with protection from clinical malaria in children in a malaria holoendemic area of Kenya. Accurate estimates of antibody-associated protection from clinical malaria require adjustment for malaria exposure.