Although the circumsporozoite protein (CSP) of the malaria parasite is the most immunologically characterized protein, the goal of using this protein in an effective vaccine has not yet been realized. Monoclonal antibody against the repetitive immunodominant B-epitope of the CSP can protect mice from malaria, but vaccines that induce antibody against this epitope do not consistently induce protection. Toward developing a rationale for a CSP-based effective vaccine, we have re-investigated the ability of anti-CSP repeat antibodies, as induced by different CSP vaccine formulations with several adjuvants, to confer sterile immunity against sporozoite challenge. Using Plasmodium berghei rodent malaria model and several CSP subunit vaccine constructs, we found that a formulation consisting of the P. berghei CSP repetitive epitope, (DPPPPNPN)2(CS), conjugated to BSA by carbodiimide, formulated in a block copolymer and detoxified lipopolysaccharide (RaLPS) adjuvant, was particularly promising. Mice were immunized and boosted with vaccines that contain varying malarial peptide-carrier ratios of 6:1 (CS6-BSA), 55:1 (CS55-BSA) and 170:1 (CS170-BSA). Following immunization, the animals were challenged with live sporozoites. Two types of effects were observed in vaccinated mice. First, sterile immunity was induced in 100%, 50% and 29% of mice that were immunized with the CS170-BSA, CS55-BSA, and CS6-BSA vaccine conjugates, respectively. The second effect of immunization was observed with the CS170-BSA conjugate vaccine primed mice; a boost in IFA titers followed sporozoite challenge. In addition, we observed that IgG1 isotype titer against the-surface of the sporozoite, as measured by IFA, and antibody avidity parallel sterile immunity. These findings reiterate the potential of the CSP as a malaria vaccine candidate antigen, and suggest that the induction of sterile immune responses depends on inducing antibody of the appropriate isotype, avidity and specificity.
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