Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax sporozoites were observed to invade cultured human hepatoma cells in vitro. Monoclonal antibodies to the circumsporozoite (CS) protein of each of these malarial species blocked invasion. Inhibition was species-specific, but was independent of the geographic origin of each strain. Because these monoclonal antibodies have been shown to diminish or abolish sporozoite infectivity to susceptible primate hosts, it is suggested that inhibition of invasion of sporozoites (ISI) into cultured cells may represent in in vitro assay for protective antibodies. This was confirmed by the finding that serum taken from volunteers immune to sporozoite challenge also totally blocked sporozoite invasion. The ISI assay also detected naturally acquired invasive-neutralizing antibodies in areas endemic for malaria. This ISI assay may therefore be useful in determining the incidence of inhibitory anti-sporozoite antibodies in general populations, and allow the monitoring of the effect of an anti-malarial vaccine using sporozoite-derived antigens.

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