Uninfected Erythrocytes form “Rosettes” Around Plasmodium Falciparum Infected Erythrocytes

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  • Department of Parasitology, University of Colombo, Unite d' Immunoparasitologie, Institut pasteur, Colombo, Sri Lanka

The human malaria parasite, P. falciparum, exhibits cytoadherence properties whereby infected erythrocytes containing mature parasite stages bind to endothelial cells both in vivo and in vitro. Another property of cytoadherence, “rosetting,” or the binding of uninfected erythrocytes around an infected erythrocyte, has been demonstrated with a simian malaria parasite P. fragile which is sequestered in vivo in its natural host, Macaca sinica. In the present study we demonstrate that rosetting occurs in P. falciparum. Rosetting in P. falciparum is abolished by protease treatment and reappears on further parasite growth indicating that, as in P. fragile, it is mediated by parasite induced molecules which are protein in nature. P. vivax and P. cynomolgi, which are not sequestered in the host, did not exhibit rosetting. Rosetting thus appears to be a specific property of cytoadherence in malaria parasites.