Rosetting: A New Cytoadherence Property of Malaria-Infected Erythrocytes

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  • * Unite d' Immunoparasitologie, Institut Pasteur, 25, Rue du Dr Roux, Paris 75724, France
  • | Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka,
  • | Department of Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco, California 94110

Plasmodium fragile infection of the toque monkey is a natural host-parasite association in which parasite sequestration occurs as during P. falciparum infection of humans. We have studied parasite sequestration of P. fragile and demonstrated the existence of a new property of cytoadherence of infected erythrocytes, “rosetting,” which is defined as the agglutination of uninfected erythrocytes around parasitized erythrocytes. Rosetting in vitro and sequestration in vivo appear simultaneously as the parasite matures. The spleen plays a role in modulating cytoadherence; both sequestration and rosetting, which occur with cloned parasites from spleen-intact animals, are markedly reduced in splenectomized animals infected with parasites derived from the same clone. Sequestration and rosetting can be reversed by immune serum. Protease treatment of infected blood abolishes rosetting; however, if treatment is performed at an early stage of schizogony, rosetting reappears if parasites are allowed to further develop in the absence of protease. These results indicate that with P. fragile in its natural primate host, rosetting and sequestration are related to the presence on the infected erythrocyte surface of a parasite-derived antigenic component, the expression of which is modulated by the spleen.

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