Malaria remains a major parasitic disease in Africa, with 300–500 million new infections each year. There is therefore an urgent need for the development of new effective measures, including vaccines. Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein-119 (MSP-119) is a prime candidate for a blood-stage malaria vaccine. Blood samples were collected from children aged 10 days to 15 years in the months of January–March (N = 351) and October–November (N = 369) corresponding to the dry and rainy seasons, respectively. P. falciparum infection was determined by microscopy and enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to determine the total IgG and IgG subclasses. There was a significant increase in the mean anti-MSP-119 antibody titre in the dry season (p < 0.05), compared to the rainy season. A significantly positive correlation between the anti-MSP-119 antibody titre and parasite density (p < 0.01, r = 0.138) was observed. In the rainy season, unlike in the dry season, P. falciparum positive children had higher anti-MSP-119 antibody titres than P. falciparum negative children and this difference was significant (p < 0.05). When all individuals were grouped together, the anti-MSP-119 antibody titre increased with age in both seasons (r = 0.186 and 0.002), this increase was more apparent in the dry season. However, when the study population was divided into P. falciparum positive and negative groups, it was observed that in the rainy season, there was a negative correlation between anti-MSP-119 titre and age in P. falciparum positive individuals, while those who were P. falciparum negative had a positive correlation between anti-MSP-119 titre and age. Analysis of anti-MSP-119 IgG subclass showed that IgG1 and IgG3 mean titres were highest in both the dry and rainy seasons with an increase in the mean antibody titres for IgG1, IgG2 and IgG3 in the rainy season. In the dry season there was a positive correlation between IgG1, IgG2, and IgG3 titres with age, while IgG4 was negative, whereas in the rainy season there was a positive correlation between IgG2 and IgG4 (non-cytophilic antibodies) with age and a negative correlation for IgG1 and IgG3 (cytophilic antibodies) with age. Seasonal differences in the level of MSP-119 IgG subclass titres were observed for P. falciparum negative and positive individuals. Only samples, which were positive for IgG2 and IgG4, showed positive correlation between parasitemia and total IgG. The incidence of P. falciparum infection, which increases during the rainy season, might be an important determinant of anti-MSP-119 antibody levels in children living in Igbo-Ora and the results point to the fact that non-cytophilic antibodies to MSP-119 in children might be associated with an increase in total IgG and parasitemia.
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