The relationship between autoimmunity and malaria is not well understood. To determine whether autoimmune responses have a protective role during malaria, we studied the pattern of reactivity to plasmodial antigens of sera from 93 patients with 14 different autoimmune diseases (AID) who were not previously exposed to malaria. Sera from patients with 13 different AID reacted against Plasmodium falciparum
by indirect fluorescent antibody test with frequencies varying from 33-100%. In addition, sera from 37 AID patients were tested for reactivity against Plasmodium yoelii
17XNL and the asexual blood stage forms of three different P. falciparum
strains. In general, the frequency of reactive sera was higher against young trophozoites than schizonts (p < 0.05 for 2 strains), indicating that the antigenic determinants targeted by the tested AID sera might be more highly expressed by the former stage. The ability of monoclonal auto-antibodies (auto-Ab) to inhibit P. falciparum
growth in vitro was also tested. Thirteen of the 18 monoclonal auto-Ab tested (72%), but none of the control monoclonal antibodies, inhibited parasite growth, in some cases by greater than 40%. We conclude that autoimmune responses mediated by auto-Ab may present anti-plasmodial activity.