Immune modulation of Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum gametocytes occurs over the course of erythrocytic infection. The response is linked to proliferative and inflammatory responses, which may be stimulated by stage-specific gametocyte proteins. Stage-specific exoantigens were purified from supernatants of P. falciparum and P. vivax gametocyte cultures, and either primary or secondary postinfection lymphocytes were stimulated for proliferation. Five of 25 exoantigens purified from P. falciparum gametocyte cultures and 6 of 28 exoantigens isolated from P. vivax were gametocyte stage specific. Metabolic labeling of soluble P. falciparum gametocyte proteins confirmed synthesis and secretion of 5 stage-specific exoantigens, with molecular masses of 118, 62, 52, 37, and 33 kDa. Purified gametocyte exoantigens within the range of 50 to 100 kDa stage-specifically stimulated proliferation of lymphocytes from postprimary P. falciparum infections, and from postprimary and secondary P. vivax infection patients with homologous purified exoantigens. T-cell receptor (TCR)γδ+, and CD3+ CD8+ and CD3+ CD4 CD8 T cells were specifically upregulated from P. falciparum primary- and P. vivax secondary-infection lymphocytes, respectively, using gametocyte stage-specific exoantigens. CD25+ was the major activation marker expressed by CD3+ and γδ T cells when stimulated with gametocyte exoantigens. None of the T cell markers was significantly upregulated using gametocyte stage-specific exoantigens with primary-infection P. vivax lymphocytes.

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