Different H-2 congenic strains of mice were immunized with a P. falciparum sporozoite vaccine currently being tested in humans, or with different segments of the vaccine molecule. Specific IgG production or lymph node cell proliferation in response to different antigens was then determined. Only four of seven strains (representing three of eight possible different class II restriction molecules) responded to the vaccine. Of those restriction molecules, only one, I-Ab, was associated with a response to a malaria-encoded T epitope [contained within NP(NANP)3NA], while the other two molecules (E alpha dE beta d and E alpha kE beta s) were associated with a T cell response to a nonmalarial epitope(s) carboxyterminal to the malaria sequence and encoded by a tetracycline resistance gene, read out of frame. If an analogous situation applies in humans, natural boosting by sporozoites will be very restricted. This has serious implications for the effectiveness of the vaccine, since constant high levels of antisporozoite antibodies and possibly antibody-independent T cell effector functions are required for immunity.

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