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Red blood cells that are infected with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum express new antigens on their surface. In a study of these antigens in the erythrocytes of naturally infected children in the Gambia, an antibody-mediated agglutination assay revealed an extreme degree of antigenic diversity. Serum samples from each of ten children in the convalescent stage of malaria infection reacted with infected cells from the same child but generally not with infected cells from the other children. The Gambian children's erythrocytes also expressed shared determinants: sera from Gambian adults often reacted with the surface of infected cells from all of the children and were shown by adsorption and elution experiments to contain antibodies that recognized several isolates. Conserved determinants exposed on infected erythrocytes may be important for development of antimalarial immunity either naturally or through vaccination.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





150 - 153


Adult, Agglutination Tests, Antigens, Protozoan, Child, Epitopes, Erythrocytes, Gambia, Humans, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum