Autoantibodies against red blood cell antigens are common in a Malaria endemic area

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Plasmodium falciparum malaria can cause severe anemia. Even after treatment, hematocrit can decrease. The role of autoantibodies against erythrocytes is not clearly elucidated and how common they are, or what they are directed against, is still largely unknown. We have investigated antibodies against erythrocytes in healthy adult men living in a highly malaria endemic area in Uganda. We found antibodies in more than half of the individuals, which is significantly more than in a non-endemic area (Sweden). Some of the Ugandan samples had a broad reactivity where it was not possible to determine the exact target of the autoantibodies, but we also found specific antibodies directed against erythrocyte surface antigens known to be of importance for merozoite invasion such as glycophorin A (anti-En a, anti-M) and glycophorin B (anti-U, anti-S). In addition, several autoantibodies had partial specificities against glycophorin C and the blood group systems Rh, Diego (located on Band 3), Duffy (located on ACKR1), and Cromer (located on CD55), all of which have been described to be important for malaria and therefore of interest for understanding how autoantibodies could potentially stop parasites from entering the erythrocyte. In conclusion, specific autoantibodies against erythrocytes are common in a malaria endemic area.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105060
JournalMicrobes and Infection
Issue number3
Early online date2022 Oct 18
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Infectious Medicine


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