Elevated Cell-Specific Microparticles Are a Biological Marker for Cerebral Dysfunctions in Human Severe Malaria
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Cerebral malaria (CM) and severe anemia (SA) are the most severe complications of Plasmodium falciparum infections. Although increased release of endothelial microparticles (MP) correlates with malaria severity, the full extent of vascular cell vesiculation remains unknown. Here, we characterize the pattern of cell-specific MP in patients with severe malaria. We tested the hypothesis that systemic vascular activation contributes to CM by examining origins and levels of plasma MP in relation to clinical syndromes, disease severity and outcome. Patients recruited in Douala, Cameroon, were assigned to clinical groups following WHO criteria. MP quantitation and phenotyping were carried out using cell-specific markers by flow cytometry using antibodies recognizing cell-specific surface markers. Platelet, erythrocytic, endothelial and leukocytic MP levels were elevated in patients with cerebral dysfunctions and returned to normal by discharge. In CM patients, platelet MP were the most abundant and their levels significantly correlated with coma depth and thrombocytopenia. This study shows for the first time a widespread enhancement of vesiculation in the vascular compartment appears to be a feature of CM but not of SA. Our data underpin the role of MP as a biomarker of neurological involvement in severe malaria. Therefore, intervention to block MP production in severe malaria may provide a new therapeutic pathway. © 2010 Pankoui Mfonkeu et al.
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