The use of cryopreserved mature trophozoites in assessing antibody recognition of variant surface antigens of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes
Mature stages of Plasmodium falciparum insert variant antigens (VSA) into the surface of infected erythrocytes, and antibodies against such antigen provide variant-specific protection against malaria. Because mature P. falciparum trophozoites normally sequester away from the peripheral circulation, parasites for anti-VSA antibody studies are obtained from patients as ring trophozoites, cryopreserved, and cultured to maturity when required. However, this process is associated with problems of poor recovery from cryopreservation, growth failure and variations in time different isolates take to mature after recovery. We therefore assessed the use of cryopreserved mature trophozoites in anti-VSA assays. Cryopreservation of parasites did not alter their anti-VSA antibody reactivity phenotype as determined by agglutination assays or flow cytometry. We have therefore demonstrated that cryopreserved mature trophozoites are suitable for use in anti-VSA antibody assays. The use of cryopreserved mature trophozoites could help to circumvent the problems associated with recovery of cryopreserved ring trophozoites.