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Serologial evidence of discrete spatial clusters of Plasmodium falciparum parasites

Bejon, Phillip, Turner, Louise, Lavstsen, Thomas, Cham, Gerald, Olotu, Ally, Drakeley, Chris, Lievens, Marc, Vekemans, Johan, Savarese, Barbara, Lusingu, John, von Seidlein, Lorenz, Bull, Peter C., Marsh, Kevin and Theander, Thor G. (2011). Serologial evidence of discrete spatial clusters of Plasmodium falciparum parasites. PLoS One,6(6):e21711.

Document type: Journal Article
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Title Serologial evidence of discrete spatial clusters of Plasmodium falciparum parasites
Author Bejon, Phillip
Turner, Louise
Lavstsen, Thomas
Cham, Gerald
Olotu, Ally
Drakeley, Chris
Lievens, Marc
Vekemans, Johan
Savarese, Barbara
Lusingu, John
von Seidlein, Lorenz
Bull, Peter C.
Marsh, Kevin
Theander, Thor G.
Journal Name PLoS One
Publication Date 2011
Volume Number 6
Issue Number 6
ISSN 1932-6203   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Start Page e21711
Total Pages 10
Place of Publication United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract Background
Malaria transmission may be considered to be homogenous with well-mixed parasite populations (as in the classic Ross/Macdonald models). Marked fine-scale heterogeneity of transmission has been observed in the field (i.e., over a few kilometres), but there are relatively few data on the degree of mixing. Since the Plasmodium falciparum Erythrocyte Membrane Protein 1 (PfEMP1) is highly polymorphic, the host's serological responses may be used to infer exposure to parasite sub-populations.

Methods and Findings
We measured the antibody responses to 46 individual PfEMP1 domains at four time points among 450 children in Kenya, and identified distinct spatial clusters of antibody responses to individual domains. 35 domains showed strongly significant sero-clusters at p = 0.001. Individuals within the high transmission hotspot showed the greatest diversity of anti-PfEMP1 responses. Individuals outside the hotspot had a less diverse range of responses, even if as individuals they were at relatively intense exposure.

We infer that antigenically distinct sub-populations of parasites exist on a fine spatial scale in a study area of rural Kenya. Further studies should examine antigenic variation over longer periods of time and in different study areas.
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