The blood stage of the malaria parasites life cycle is responsible for all the clinical symptoms of malaria. The development of clinical disease is dependent on the interplay of the infecting parasite with the immune status and genetic background of the host. Following repeated exposure to malaria parasites, individuals residing in endemic areas develop immunity. Naturally acquired immunity provides protection against clinical disease, especially severe malaria and death from malaria, although sterilizing immunity is never achieved. Given the absence of antigen processing in erythrocytes, immunity to blood stage malaria parasites is primarily conferred by humoral immune responses. Cellular and innate immune responses play a role in controlling parasite growth but may also contribute to malaria pathology. Here, we analyze the natural humoral immune responses acquired by individuals residing in P. falciparum endemic areas and review their role in providing protection against malaria. In addition, we review the dual potential of cellular and innate immune responses to control parasite multiplication and promote pathology.
Keywords: Malaria, naturally acquired immunity, blood stage immunity, malaria pathogenesis
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport