Malaria is a vector-borne disease caused by the single-cell eukaryote Plasmodium. The infectious parasite forms are sporozoites, which originate from midgut-associated oocysts, where they eventually egress and reach the mosquito hemocoel. Sporozoites actively colonize the salivary glands in order to be transmitted to the mammalian host. Whether residence in the salivary glands provides distinct and vital cues for the development of infectivity remains unsolved. In this study, we systematically compared the infectivity of Plasmodium berghei sporozoites isolated from the mosquito hemocoel and salivary glands. Hemocoel sporozoites display a lower proportion of gliding motility but develop into liver stages when added to cultured hepatoma cells or after intravenous injection into mice. Mice infected by hemocoel sporozoites had blood infections similar to those induced by sporozoites liberated from salivary glands. These infected mice display indistinguishable systemic inflammatory cytokine responses and develop experimental cerebral malaria. When used as metabolically active, live attenuated vaccine, hemocoel sporozoites elicit substantial protection against sporozoite challenge infections. Collectively, these findings show that salivary gland colonization does not influence parasite virulence in the mammalian host when sporozoites are administered intravenously. This conclusion has important implications for in vitro sporozoite production and manufacturing of whole-sporozoite vaccines.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases