Meta-analysis of immune epitope data for all Plasmodia: overview and applications for malarial immunobiology and vaccine-related issues


: Kerrie Vaughan, La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology (LIAI), La Jolla, CA 92037, USA


We present a comprehensive meta-analysis of more than 500 references, describing nearly 5000 unique B cell and T cell epitopes derived from the Plasmodium genus, and detailing thousands of immunological assays. This is the first inventory of epitope data related to malaria-specific immunology, plasmodial pathogenesis, and vaccine performance. The survey included host and pathogen species distribution of epitopes, the number of antibody vs. CD4+ and CD8+ T cell epitopes, the genomic distribution of recognized epitopes, variance among epitopes from different parasite strains, and the characterization of protective epitopes and of epitopes associated with parasite evasion of the host immune response. The results identify knowledge gaps and areas for further investigation. This information has relevance to issues, such as the identification of epitopes and antigens associated with protective immunity, the design and development of candidate malaria vaccines, and characterization of immune response to strain polymorphisms.