Systems analysis of protective immune responses to RTS,S malaria vaccination in humans

PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
[Accessed 18 February 2017]

Biological Sciences – Systems Biology:
Systems analysis of protective immune responses to RTS,S malaria vaccination in humans
Dmitri Kazmina,1, Helder I. Nakayab,1, Eva K. Leec, Matthew J. Johnsond, Robbert van der Moste, Robert A. van den ergf, W. Ripley Ballouf, Erik Jongerte, Ulrike Wille-Reeceg,
Christian Ockenhouseg, Alan Aderemh, Daniel E. Zakh, Jerald Sadoffi, Jenny Hendriksi, Jens Wrammerta, Rafi Ahmeda,2, and Bali Pulendrana,j,2
The RTS,S malaria vaccine is the most advanced malaria vaccine candidate to be tested in humans. Despite its promise, there is little understanding of its mechanism of action. In this work, we describe the use of a systems biological approach to identify “molecular signatures” that are induced rapidly after the standard RTS,S vaccination regimen, consisting of three RTS,S immunizations, or with a different regimen consisting of a primary immunization with recombinant adenovirus 35 (Ad35) expressing the circumsporozoite malaria antigen followed by two immunizations with RTS,S. These results reveal important insights about the innate and adaptive responses to vaccination and identify signatures of protective immunity against malaria.
RTS,S is an advanced malaria vaccine candidate and confers significant protection against Plasmodium falciparum infection in humans. Little is known about the molecular mechanisms driving vaccine immunity. Here, we applied a systems biology approach to study immune responses in subjects receiving three consecutive immunizations with RTS,S (RRR), or in those receiving two immunizations of RTS,S/AS01 following a primary immunization with adenovirus 35 (Ad35) (ARR) vector expressing circumsporozoite protein. Subsequent controlled human malaria challenge (CHMI) of the vaccinees with Plasmodium-infected mosquitoes, 3 wk after the final immunization, resulted in ∼50% protection in both groups of vaccinees. Circumsporozoite protein (CSP)-specific antibody titers, prechallenge, were associated with protection in the RRR group. In contrast, ARR-induced lower antibody responses, and protection was associated with polyfunctional CD4+ T-cell responses 2 wk after priming with Ad35. Molecular signatures of B and plasma cells detected in PBMCs were highly correlated with antibody titers prechallenge and protection in the RRR cohort. In contrast, early signatures of innate immunity and dendritic cell activation were highly associated with protection in the ARR cohort. For both vaccine regimens, natural killer (NK) cell signatures negatively correlated with and predicted protection. These results suggest that protective immunity against P. falciparum can be achieved via multiple mechanisms and highlight the utility of systems approaches in defining molecular correlates of protection to vaccination.