- Study finds cerebral malaria like condition in mice caused due to aggregation of immune cells near blood vessels in the brain.
- This was found to lead to leakage of blood in the brain and consequent brain swelling.
- This study provides new insight into the pathogenesis in cerebral malaria and new targets for drug therapy.
Cerebral malaria is one of the most severe neurological manifestation associated with infection by Plasmodium falciparum. A new study has found that the swelling in the brain is due to cytotoxic T cells attacking blood vessels.
Malaria is a disease of global significance
- 300 to 500 million people are affected annually
- 40% of the population of the world lives in an area that is endemic for malaria
- 1.5 to 2 million deaths occur every year due to malaria
- 2.4 million cases are reported from South Asia every year, out of which 75% are from India
- There have been an increase in P. falciparum infections in Central India in recent years
‘Antibodies against immune cells will prevent blood leakage and brain swelling in cerebral malaria.’
Antibodies Against T CellsThe scientists injected antibodies against the T cells that were found to lead to the fatal swelling of the brain. The antibodies prevented the cytotoxic T cells from getting attached to the blood vessels. The antibody treatment proved that T-cells were responsible for mice with a condition similar to cerebral malaria.
Dr. Swanson, talking about the study said, "By watching immune cells function in the living brain during cerebral malaria, the investigators of this study revealed that parasite-specific CD8 T cells attack the wall of the cerebral blood vessels, causing excessive swelling and damage to a vital brain center. This fatal disorder can be prevented by therapeutically displacing the pathogenic T cells from the vessel wall."
Cerebral malaria is characterized by increased mortality and patients who survive are often neurologically impaired. The clinical condition of cerebral malaria is a state of coma and the presence of malarial cells in the peripheral blood. There is no other reason that can be ascertained to the coma including hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). The increase in drug resistance has resulted in increased mortality rates, which could be controlled by identifying new targets for therapy.
In a study in rural India, it was found that a large number of rural children were at high risk for cerebral malaria. The study recommends a focused approach to treating malarial fever in children, as early identification and treatment could save the children from potential harm. The study conducted by Kamble MB and colleagues and published in The Indian Journal of Pediatrics and titled "Cerebral Malaria in India" found that
- All patients presented with fever and an involvement of the central nervous system
- 66% of the patients had convulsions
- Out of 56 malaria patients, 7 went into coma
- 60% had anemia
- 20% required blood transfusion
- 53.3% had splenomegaly (enlargement of the spleen)
- 47% of the patients had hepatomegaly (enlarged liver)
- Cerebral malaria is a serious condition and it is identified in 32% of malaria patients who are infected by P.falciparum.
- Burden of Cerebral Malaria in Central India (2004-2007) - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2710578/)
- Cerebral Malaria in Rural India - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12356215)
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