Title

Distinct Clinical and Immunologic Profiles in Severe Malarial Anemia and Cerebral Malaria in Zambia

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Abstract

Background. The mechanisms of severe malarial anemia and cerebral malaria, which are extreme manifestations of Plasmodium falciparum malaria, are not fully understood. Methods. Children aged <6 years from southern Zambia presenting to the hospital with severe malarial anemia (n = 72), cerebral malaria (n = 28), or uncomplicated malaria (n = 66) were studied prospectively. Children with overlapping severe anemia and cerebral malaria were excluded. Results. Low interleukin 10 concentrations had the strongest association with severe anemia (standard β = .61; P < .001) followed by high tumor necrosis factor α and sFas concentrations, low weight-for-age z scores, presence of stool parasites, and splenomegaly (standard β = .15-.25; P ≤ .031); most of these factors were also associated with lower reticulocytes. Greater parasitemia was associated with higher interleukin 10 and tumor necrosis factor α concentrations, whereas sulfadoxizole/pyrimethamine therapy and lower weight-for-age z scores were associated with lower interleukin 10 levels. Thrombocytopenia and elevated tissue plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 levels had the strongest associations with cerebral malaria (standard β = .37 or .36; P < .0001), followed by exposure to traditional herbal medicine and hemoglobinuria (standard β = .21-.31; P ≤ .006). Conclusions. Predictors of severe malarial anemia (altered immune responses, poor nutrition, intestinal parasites, and impaired erythropoiesis) differed from those of cerebral malaria (thrombocytopenia, herbal medicine, and intravascular hemolysis). Improved preventive and therapeutic measures may need to consider these differences. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved.

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