Human immune response directed against Plasmodium falciparum heat shock-related proteins

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Infection and Immunity






Heat shock-related stress proteins present in all eucaryotes and procaryotes have been shown to be immune targets in a broad range of infections. We have analyzed sera from people exposed primarily to Plasmodium falciparum for specific antibodies against two heat shock-related proteins (proteins similar to the heat shock protein with a molecular weight of 75,000 [Pfhsp] and a glucose-regulated protein with a molecular weight of 72,000 [Pfgrp]). In an immunoprecipitation analysis with metabolically labeled parasites and synthetic peptides in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, specific antibodies against Pfhsp and Pfgrp were detected in the sera of these individuals. Sera from people exposed to a different human malarial parasite, Plasmodium vivax, did not react with the peptides in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Southern blot analysis with DNA isolated from P. falciparum from different geographical locations showed a conservation of genes for these stress proteins; thus, they are likely to be immune targets in various endemic areas. Lymphocytes from two tested immune donors responded in proliferation assays to purified Pfhsp and Pfgrp and purified recombinant proteins. However, a similar response was also seen in lymphocytes from nonimmune individuals and has raised questions pertaining to a generalized responsiveness of lymphocytes to some common determinants present in heat shock-related proteins in various pathogens.

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