Volume 49, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Some clinical manifestations of severe malaria resemble those of sepsis and there may be mediators of the host response that are common to both sepsis and malaria. Phospholipase A(PLA), a proinflammatory enzyme whose expression is induced by tumor necrosis factor (TNF), has been implicated in the pathogenesis of complications of the sepsis syndrome. We examined levels of circulating PLA in malaria and studied the association of PLA with disease severity. Plasma PLA and TNF were measured in 75 Malawian children with malaria. The mean (SD) plasma PLA activity in children with acute malaria was 53,804 (37,256) units/ml as compared with 424 (349) units/ml in 34 healthy controls ( < 0.00001). The mean PLA activity in 45 convalescent patients was 2,546 (7,372) units/ml ( < 0.00001). In 48 patients with pretreatment PLA activity less than 60,000 units/ml, mortality was 8.3%, while in 27 patients with pretreatment PLA levels greater than 60,000 units/ml, mortality was 33.3% ( = 0.008). There were significant correlations between PLA and TNF (r = 0.471, < 0.01), density of parasitemia (r = 0.443, < 0.0001) and a decrease in hematocrit (r = 0.352, < 0.005). These data show that malaria is associated with a markedly increased circulating PLA, especially in patients with severe disease, as manifested by high parasite burden, anemia, coma, and death.


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