Immune complex formation during Plasmodium berghei infection of OF1 mice was investigated. Circulating immune complexes (CIC) were detected by the Clq-binding assay and the conglutinin-binding solid-phase assay in lethal or drug-limited infections. CIC appeared on day 9 of infection, peaked on day 11, and disappeared only after complete cure of the infection. Analysis of the immune complexes detected by the Clq-binding assay revealed the following characteristics: sedimentation coefficients of 13S to 21S, resistance to DNAse, and selective removal by filtration through protein A bound to Sepharose. Glomerular deposits of IgM preceded the appearance of CIC, whereas deposits of IgG and C3 were concomitant with the appearance of CIC. Tissue-bound immunoglobulins were also found in the choroid plexus. The appearance of anti-malarial antibodies and malarial antigens in the serum was closely associated with a depression of C3 levels and the presence of CIC. Drug treatment was followed by normalization of C3 levels, and clearance of both CIC and malarial antigens.

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This work was supported by WHO, the UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, the Swiss National Foundation (Grant 3.847.0.77), and the Dubois-Ferriere Dinu Lipatti Foundation.

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