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1.  Protein Microarray Analysis of Antibody Responses to Plasmodium falciparum in Western Kenyan Highland Sites with Differing Transmission Levels 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82246.
Malaria represents a major public health problem in Africa. In the East African highlands, the high-altitude areas were previously considered too cold to support vector population and parasite transmission, rendering the region particularly prone to epidemic malaria due to the lack of protective immunity of the population. Since the 1980’s, frequent malaria epidemics have been reported and these successive outbreaks may have generated some immunity against Plasmodium falciparum amongst the highland residents. Serological studies reveal indirect evidence of human exposure to the parasite, and can reliably assess prevalence of exposure and transmission intensity in an endemic area. However, the vast majority of serological studies of malaria have been, hereto, limited to a small number of the parasite’s antigens. We surveyed and compared the antibody response profiles of age-stratified sera from residents of two endemic areas in the western Kenyan highlands with differing malaria transmission intensities, during two distinct seasons, against 854 polypeptides of P. falciparum using high-throughput proteomic microarray technology. We identified 107 proteins as serum antibody targets, which were then characterized for their gene ontology biological process and cellular component of the parasite, and showed significant enrichment for categories related to immune evasion, pathogenesis and expression on the host’s cell and parasite’s surface. Additionally, we calculated age-fitted annual seroconversion rates for the immunogenic proteins, and contrasted the age-dependent antibody acquisition for those antigens between the two sampling sites. We observed highly immunogenic antigens that produce stable antibody responses from early age in both sites, as well as less immunogenic proteins that require repeated exposure for stable responses to develop and produce different seroconversion rates between sites. We propose that a combination of highly and less immunogenic proteins could be used in serological surveys to detect differences in malaria transmission levels, distinguishing sites of unstable and stable transmission.
PMCID: PMC3846730  PMID: 24312649
2.  Variation in exposure to Anopheles gambiae salivary gland peptide (gSG6-P1) across different malaria transmission settings in the western Kenya highlands 
Malaria Journal  2012;11:318.
The existing metrics of malaria transmission are limited in sensitivity under low transmission intensity. Robust surveillance systems are needed as interventions to monitor reduced transmission and prevention of rapid reintroduction. Serological tools based on antibody responses to parasite and vector antigens are potential tools for transmission measurements. The current study sought to evaluate antibody responses to Anopheles gambiae salivary gland peptide (gSG6- P1), as a biomarker of human exposure to Anopheles bites, in different transmission settings and seasons. The comparison between anti-MSP-119 IgG immune responders and non-responders allowed exploring the robustness of the gSG6-P1 peptide as a surveillance tool in an area of decreasing malaria transmission.
Total IgG levels to gSG6-P1 were measured in an age-stratified cohort (< 5, 5–14 and ≥ 15 years) in a total of 1,366 participants from three localities in western Kenya [Kisii (hypoendemic), Kakamega (mesoendemic), and Kombewa (hyperendemic)] including 607 sera that were additionally tested for MSP-119 specific responses during a low and a high malaria transmission seasons. Antibody prevalence and levels were compared between localities with different transmission intensities. Regression analysis was performed to examine the association between gSG6-P1 and MSP-119 seroprevalence and parasite prevalence.
Seroprevalence of gSG6-P1 in the uphill population was 36% while it was 50% valley bottom (χ2 = 13.2, df = 1, p < 0.001). Median gSG6-P1 antibody levels in the Valley bottom were twice as high as that observed in the uphill population [4.50 vs. 2.05, p < 0.001] and showed seasonal variation. The odds of gSG6-P1 seropositives having MSP-119 antibodies were almost three times higher than the odds of seronegatives (OR = 2.87, 95% CI [1.977, 4.176]). The observed parasite prevalence for Kisii, Kakamega and Kombewa were 4%, 19.7% and 44.6% whilst the equivalent gSG6-P1 seroprevalence were 28%, 34% and 54%, respectively.
The seroprevalence of IgG to gSG6-P1 was sensitive and robust in distinguishing between hypo, meso and hyper transmission settings and seasonal fluctuations.
PMCID: PMC3541077  PMID: 22963464
3.  In vitro antimicrobial activity of ethanolic fractions of Cryptolepis sanguinolenta 
Following claims that some plants have antimicrobial activities against infectious microbes, the in vitro antimicrobial activities of different solvent fractions of ethanolic extract of Cryptolepis sanguinolenta were evaluated against eight standard bacteria and clinical isolates.
The solvent partitioning protocol involving ethanol, petroleum ether, chloroform, ethyl acetate and water, was used to extract various fractions of dried pulverized Cryptolepis sanguinolenta roots. Qualitative phyto-constituents screening was performed on the ethanol extract, chloroform fraction and the water fraction. The Kirby Bauer disk diffusion method was employed to ascertain the antibiogram of the test organisms while the agar diffusion method was used to investigate the antimicrobial properties of the crude plant extracts. The microplate dilution method aided in finding the MICs while the MBCs were obtained by the method of Nester and friends. The SPSS 16.0 version was used to analyze the percentages of inhibitions and bactericidal activities.
The phytochemical screening revealed the presence of alkaloids, reducing sugars, polyuronides, anthocyanosides and triterpenes. The ethanol extract inhibited 5 out of 8 (62.5%) of the standard organisms and 6 out of 8 (75%) clinical isolates. The petroleum ether fraction inhibited 4 out of 8 (50%) of the standard microbes and 1 out of 8 (12.5%) clinical isolates. It was also observed that the chloroform fraction inhibited the growth of all the organisms (100%). Average inhibition zones of 14.0 ± 1.0 mm to 24.67 ± 0.58 mm was seen in the ethyl acetate fraction which halted the growth of 3 (37.5%) of the standard organisms. Inhibition of 7 (87.5%) of standard strains and 6 (75%) of clinical isolates were observed in the water fraction. The chloroform fraction exhibited bactericidal activity against all the test organisms while the remaining fractions showed varying degrees of bacteriostatic activity.
The study confirmed that fractions of Cryptolepis sanguinolenta have antimicrobial activity. The chloroform fraction had the highest activity, followed by water, ethanol, petroleum ether and ethyl acetate respectively. Only the chloroform fraction exhibited bactericidal activity and further investigations are needed to ascertain its safety and prospects of drug development.
PMCID: PMC3473295  PMID: 22709723
4.  Marked variation in MSP-119 antibody responses to malaria in western Kenyan highlands 
Assessment of malaria endemicity at different altitudes and transmission intensities, in the era of dwindling vector densities in the highlands, will provide valuable information for malaria control and surveillance. Measurement of serum anti-malarial antibodies is a useful marker of malaria exposure that indicates long-term transmission potential. We studied the serologic evidence of malaria endemicity at two highland sites along a transmission intensity cline. An improved understanding of the micro-geographic variation in malaria exposure in the highland ecosystems will be relevant in planning effective malaria control.
Total IgG levels to Plasmodium falciparum MSP-119 were measured in an age-stratified cohort (< 5, 5-14 and ≥ 15 years) in 795 participants from an uphill and valley bottom residents during low and high malaria transmission seasons. Antibody prevalence and level was compared between different localities. Regression analysis was performed to examine the association between antibody prevalence and parasite prevalence. Age-specific MSP-119 seroprevalence data was fitted to a simple reversible catalytic model to investigate the relationship between parasite exposure and age.
Higher MSP-119 seroprevalence and density were observed in the valley residents than in the uphill dwellers. Adults (> 15 years) recorded high and stable immune response in spite of changing seasons. Lower responses were observed in children (≤ 15 years), which, fluctuated with changing seasons particularly in the valley residents. In the uphill population, annual seroconversion rate (SCR) was 8.3% and reversion rate was 3.0%, with seroprevalence reaching a plateau of 73.3% by age of 20. Contrary, in the valley bottom population, the annual SCR was 35.8% and the annual seroreversion rate was 3.5%, and seroprevalence in the population had reached 91.2% by age 10.
The study reveals the micro-geographic variation in malaria endemicity in the highland eco-system; this validates the usefulness of sero-epidemiological tools in assessing malaria endemicity in the era of decreasing sensitivity of conventional tools.
PMCID: PMC3306741  PMID: 22380785

Results 1-4 (4)