The Dynamics of Natural Plasmodium falciparum Infections.

Felger, I; Maire, M; Bretscher, MT; Falk, N; Tiaden, A; Sama, W; Beck, HP; Owusu-Agyei, S; Smith, TA; (2012) The Dynamics of Natural Plasmodium falciparum Infections. PLoS One, 7 (9). e45542. ISSN 1932-6203 DOI:

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BACKGROUND Natural immunity to Plasmodium falciparum has been widely studied, but its effects on parasite dynamics are poorly understood. Acquisition and clearance rates of untreated infections are key elements of the dynamics of malaria, but estimating these parameters is challenging because of frequent super-infection and imperfect detectability of parasites. Consequently, information on effects of host immune status or age on infection dynamics is fragmentary. METHODS An age-stratified cohort of 347 individuals from Northern Ghana was sampled six times at 2 month intervals. High-throughput capillary electrophoresis was used to genotype the msp-2 locus of all P. falciparum infections detected by PCR. Force of infection (FOI) and duration were estimated for each age group using an immigration-death model that allows for imperfect detection of circulating parasites. RESULTS Allowing for imperfect detection substantially increased estimates of FOI and duration. Effects of naturally acquired immunity on the FOI and duration would be reflected in age dependence in these indices, but in our cohort data FOI tended to increase with age in children. Persistence of individual parasite clones was characteristic of all age-groups. Duration peaked in 5-9 year old children (average duration 319 days, 95% confidence interval 318;320). CONCLUSIONS The main age-dependence is on parasite densities, with only small age-variations in the FOI and persistence of infections. This supports the hypothesis that acquired immunity controls transmission mainly by limiting blood-stage parasite densities rather than changing rates of acquisition or clearance of infections.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Disease Control
Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Immunology and Infection
PubMed ID: 23029082
Web of Science ID: 311313900154


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