Gametocytes and sporogonic stages are responsible for the spread of disease and drug resistance in the population. Sexual stage immunity affects the infectiousness of gametocytes to mosquitoes. Specific antibodies including anti-Pfs48/45 and anti-Pfs230 antibodies are found in individuals with limited prior exposure to malaria. Sexual stage antibodies are rapidly acquired after infection and are relatively prevalent in gametocytaemic individuals. Functional transmission reducing activity (TRA) is found after primary infections and in young children and appears to depend on recent rather than cumulative exposure to gametocytes. Exposure to gametocytes decreases with age most likely as a consequence of the acquisition of asexual-stage immunity that controls asexual parasite density and consequently gametocytaemia. This results in lower exposure to the antigenic load of gametocytes in semi-immune individuals. Since sexual stage immunity is probably short-lived in the absence of gametocytes, we hypothesize that sexual stage immunity will wane, resulting in low antibody and TRA prevalences in clinically semi-immune carriers.
Keywords: Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, gametocyte, sexual stage immunity, transmission, Pfs230, Pfs48/45
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