How might infant and paediatric immune responses influence malaria vaccine efficacy

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Department of Pediatrics

Publication Date


Document Type



Age Factors; Child, Preschool; Humans; Immune System; Infant; Malaria; Malaria Vaccines


Biostatistics | Epidemiology | Health Services Research | Immunology and Infectious Disease | Pediatrics


Naturally acquired immunity to malaria requires repeat infections yet does not engender sterile immunity or long-lasting protective immunologic memory. This renders infants and young children the most susceptible to malaria-induced morbidity and mortality, and the ultimate target for a malaria vaccine. The prevailing paradigm is that infants initially garner protection due to transplacentally transferred anti-malarial antibodies and other intrinsic factors such as foetal haemoglobin. As these wane infants have an insufficient immune repertoire to prevent genetically diverse Plasmodium infections and an inability to control malaria-induced immunopathology. This Review discusses humoral, cell-mediated and innate immune responses to malaria and how each contributes to protection - focusing on how deficiencies in infant and paediatric immune responses might influence malaria vaccine efficacy in this population. In addition, burgeoning evidence suggests a role for inhibitory receptors that limit immunopathology and guide the development of long-lived immunity. Precisely how age or malaria infections influence the function of these regulators is unknown. Therefore the possibility that infants may not have the immune-dexterity to balance effective parasite clearance with timely immune-regulation leading to protective immunologic memory is considered. And thus, malaria vaccines tested in adults and older children may not be predictive for trials conducted in infants.

DOI of Published Version



Parasite Immunol. 2009 Sep;31(9):547-59. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Parasite immunology

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed