Changing Trends in P. falciparum Burden, Immunity, and Disease in Pregnancy

22 Oct 2015
Mayor, A., Bardaji, A., Macete, E., Nhampossa, T., Fonseca, A. M., Gonzalez, R., Maculuve, S., Cistero, P., Ruperez, M., Campo, J., Vala, A., Sigauque, B., Jimenez, A., Machevo, S., de la Fuente, L., Nhama, A., Luis, L., Aponte, J. J., Acacio, S., Nhacolo, A., Chitnis, C., Dobano, C., Sevene, E., Alonso, P. L. and Menendez, C.

BACKGROUND: Prevention of reinfection and resurgence is an integral component of the goal to eradicate malaria. However, the adverse effects of malaria resurgences are not known. METHODS: We assessed the prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum infection among 1819 Mozambican women who delivered infants between 2003 and 2012. We used microscopic and histologic examination and a quantitative polymerase-chain-reaction (qPCR) assay, as well as flow-cytometric analysis of IgG antibody responses against two parasite lines.

RESULTS: Positive qPCR tests for P. falciparum decreased from 33% in 2003 to 2% in 2010 and increased to 6% in 2012, with antimalarial IgG antibody responses mirroring these trends. Parasite densities in peripheral blood on qPCR assay were higher in 2010-2012 (geometric mean [+/-SD], 409+/-1569 genomes per microliter) than in 2003-2005 (44+/-169 genomes per microliter, P=0.02), as were parasite densities in placental blood on histologic assessment (50+/-39% of infected erythrocytes vs. 4+/-6%, P<0.001). The malaria-associated reduction in maternal hemoglobin levels was larger in 2010-2012 (10.1+/-1.8 g per deciliter in infected women vs. 10.9+/-1.7 g per deciliter in uninfected women; mean difference, -0.82 g per deciliter; 95% confidence interval [CI], -1.39 to -0.25) than in 2003-2005 (10.5+/-1.1 g per deciliter vs. 10.6+/-1.5 g per deciliter; difference, -0.12 g per deciliter; 95% CI, -0.67 to 0.43), as was the reduction in birth weight (2863+/-440 g in women with past or chronic infections vs. 3070+/-482 g in uninfected women in 2010-2012; mean difference, -164.5 g; 95% CI, -289.7 to -39.4; and 2994+/-487 g vs. 3117+/-455 g in 2003-2005; difference, -44.8 g; 95% CI, -139.1 to 49.5).

CONCLUSIONS: Antimalarial antibodies were reduced and the adverse consequences of P. falciparum infections were increased in pregnant women after 5 years of a decline in the prevalence of malaria. (Funded by Malaria Eradication Scientific Alliance and others.).