Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: Physiology and Health
Araba Wubah - Washington and Lee University
Co-Author(s): Paulina Ampomah, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana Daniel A. Wubah and Judith A. Wubah, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA
Plasmodium falciparum causes malignant tertian malaria in West Africa, leading to about 630,000 deaths annually. Currently, there is no vaccine for this disease, but there are multiple candidates that include the use of surface antigens of P. falciparum. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between P. falciparum antigens and the amount of antibodies produced in individuals in the Central Region of Ghana. The two antigens studied were the schizont extract and glutamate-rich protein (GLURP). Samples were collected from individuals at the University of Cape Coast and donors from Assin Manso. The samples were from people who were non-sick and without malaria in the past two months and the control group consisted of individuals who had reported malaria-like symptoms during that time. Blood smears were done to determine the parasitemia levels and plasma was extracted for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Samples were screened for other infections, specifically syphilis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Only 20% of the individuals who reported malaria-like symptoms actually had the parasite in their blood. Non-sick immune adults had higher antibody levels to both the schizont extract and GLURP. Populations without malaria infections, but other communicable infections also had higher antibodies to schizont extract and GLURP. Our results suggest that repeated exposure to the malaria parasite can produce stable immunity and other communicable infections may lower the antibody levels of individuals in malaria-endemic areas. Further research is needed to quantify the relationship between exposure levels and antibodies produced.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation REU Sites grant (DBI-1061500)
Faculty Advisor: Paulina Ampomah,