A novel technique to study the interactions between the parasite causing malaria and HIV-1 in cultured human cells has been described in a video article. This is expected to allow scientists to explore different parameters of co-infection by the two microbes.
"We don't know much about what is happening at the cellular level when HIV-1-infected immune cells encounter the malaria parasite. Results obtained from the few studies exploring the interaction of these two diseases are sometimes conflicting. We hope that our model will allow us to thoroughly dissect these interactions in a simplified system," Dr. David Richard, the study leader from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Quebec (CHUQ), said.
Each disease attacks a different component of human blood, thus disturbing normal immune function.
Plasmodium falciparum, which causes malaria in humans, infect red blood cells and cause fever, shivering, vomiting, or convulsions in patients. HIV-1 causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) by infecting components of the immune system, including macrophages and helper T cells, and then replicates and destroys the host cells.
By studying co-infection at different phases of each disease in vitro, scientists can better understand how different stages of malaria infection and HIV reproduction affect the onset and severity of the other disease.
As such, Dr. Richard and his laboratory present a technique that investigates how P. falciparum-infected red blood cells affect the replication of HIV-1 in monocyte-derived macrophages.
Dr Richard hopes this publication will give the scientific community the tools to look at the interactions on a cellular level, which would be an initial step in improving the quality of life for individuals infected by these deadly diseases.
The study has been published in The Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE).