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Alfredo Mayor and Carlota Dobaño contributed equally to this work
Difficulties to disentangle the protective versus exposure role of anti-malarial antibodies hamper the identification of clinically-relevant immune targets. Here, factors affecting maternal IgG and IgMs against Plasmodium falciparum antigens, as well as their relationship with parasite infection and clinical outcomes, were assessed in mothers and their children. Antibody responses among 207 Mozambican pregnant women at delivery against MSP119, EBA175, AMA1, DBLα and parasite lysate (3D7, R29 and E8B parasite lines), as well as the surface of infected erythrocytes, were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and flow cytometry. The relationship between antibody levels, maternal infection and clinical outcomes was assessed by multivariate regression analysis.
Placental infection was associated with an increase in maternal levels of IgGs and IgMs against a broad range of parasite antigens. The multivariate analysis including IgGs and IgMs showed that the newborn weight increased with increasing IgG levels against a parasite lysate, whereas the opposite association was found with IgMs. IgGs are markers of protection against poor pregnancy outcomes and IgMs of parasite exposure.
Adjusting the analysis for the simultaneous effect of IgMs and IgGs can contribute to account for heterogeneous exposure to P. falciparum when assessing immune responses effective against malaria in pregnancy.