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Chris Hartlove

Malaria Research News (con't)

Another Side of Malaria Mortality

Ifeanyi AnidiMalaria is best known for its deadly cerebral complications, but a less well-studied complication hits another vital organ, the lungs. “About one in five severe malaria infections causes respiratory disease such as acute respiratory distress syndrome,” says MD/PhD student Ifeanyi Anidi.

Anidi, who works in the lab of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Professor Alan Scott, PhD, is among a growing band of researchers now looking for ways to understand and defeat these pulmonary complications.

Just as in cerebral malaria, he says, the trouble starts when malarial parasites—typically Plasmodium falciparum—try to evade the spleen by getting out of the bloodstream’s circulation. The sticky proteins they produce cause infected red blood cells to cling to blood vessel walls and clog the smaller lung vessels. Either directly or by provoking a damaging immune reaction, this grab-and-hold process starts to kill the endothelial cells that make up the vessel walls. Fluid then seeps from the bloodstream into the gas-exchange chambers of the lungs, making it harder and harder for victims to breathe. “The process can keep doing damage for days after the infection has been cleared,” says Anidi. “It’s a significant cause of death in severe malaria.”

One big factor in the process is CD36, the endothelial cell-surface receptor to which malarial sticky-proteins are designed to stick. “We’ve found that mice genetically engineered to lack CD36 have much less leakage in the small vessels of their lungs,” Anidi says.

Precisely how CD36 brings about this leakage isn’t yet clear; the receptor is also expressed by invader-gobbling immune cells called macrophages, so it might be a key to the immune reaction seen in affected vessels. But, using mouse models of malaria infection, Anidi and his fellow researchers aim to discover enough about the process to start thinking about ways to damp it somehow in a clinical setting. “It’s a fairly new field and we’re learning a lot very quickly,” he says.


This forum is closed
  • Richard Semakula

    Kampala 03/07/2011 02:40:18 AM

    I like you attempts to follow this human pest. I have a simple thought. Could you explore the possibility of adding a concentrated dose of a mosquito repellent into household bathing soap. this is one item used in all house holds and could be a great carrier for mosquito repelling agents.

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