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Strong concordance between percent inhibition in oocyst and sporozoite intensities in a Plasmodium falciparum standard membrane-feeding assay

Miura, Kazutoyo, Swihart, Bruce J., Deng, Bingbing, Zhou, Luwen, Pham, Thao P., Diouf, Ababacar, Fay, Michael P., Long, Carole A.
Parasites & vectors 2019 v.12 no.1 pp. 206
Anopheles stephensi, Plasmodium falciparum, antibodies, confidence interval, gametocytes, humans, malaria, models, oocysts, parasites, regression analysis, sporozoites, vaccines
BACKGROUND: Effective malaria transmission-blocking vaccines (TBVs) can support malaria eradication programmes, and the standard membrane-feeding assay (SMFA) has been used as a “gold standard” assay for TBV development. However, in SMFA, the inhibitory activity is commonly measured at oocyst stage of parasites, while it is the sporozoites which transmit malaria from a mosquito to a human. A handful of studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between oocyst and sporozoite intensities. However, no study has been completed to compare inhibition levels in oocyst and sporozoite intensities in the presence of transmission-blocking (TB) antibodies. RESULTS: Plasmodium falciparum NF54 gametocytes were fed to Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes with or without anti-Pfs25 or anti-Pfs48/45 TB antibodies in 15 independent assays. For each group, a portion of the mosquitoes was dissected for oocyst counts (day 8 after feed), and a portion of the remaining mosquitoes was dissected for sporozoite counts (day 16). This study covered a large range of oocyst and sporozoite intensities: 0.2 to 80.5 on average for oocysts, and 141 to 77,417 for sporozoites. The sporozoite data were well explained by a zero-inflated negative binomial model, regardless of the presence or absence of TB antibodies. Inhibition levels in both oocyst and sporozoite intensities were determined within the same groups in 9 independent assays. When the level of inhibition in sporozoite number (expressed as Log Mean Ratio, LMR; average number in a control group was divided by the one in a test group, then took a log of the ratio) was plotted against LMR in oocyst number, the best-fit slope of a linear regression was not different from 1 (the best estimate, 1.08; 95% confidence interval, 0.87 to 1.29). Furthermore, a Bland–Altman analysis showed a strong agreement between inhibitions in oocysts and in sporozoites. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that percent inhibition in oocyst intensity of a test sample can be directly converted to % inhibition in sporozoite intensity in P. falciparum SMFA. Therefore, if sporozoite intensity determines transmission rate from mosquitoes to humans, the percent inhibition in oocyst intensity measured by SMFA can be used to estimate the TBV efficacy.