Geographical Distribution of Plasmodium Falciparum Erythrocyte Rosetting and Frequency of Rosetting Antibodies in Human Sera

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  • University of Stockholm, Karolinska Institutet, Uppsala University, University of Edinburgh, Universidad Naçional, Medical Research Council Laboratories, Stockholm, Sweden
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Uninfected erythrocytes bind spontaneously to those infected with certain strains of Plasmodium falciparum. This is known as spontaneous erythrocyte rosetting. We have studied the occurrence and frequency of rosetting in 75 fresh patient isolates and have identified rosetting strains from Africa, South America, and Asia. Rosetting was present in 49% of the isolates tested; the frequency of rosetting red blood cells (RBC) in individual isolates was 0–75% when scored during the first cycle of in vitro growth. Rosetting antibodies were found in 15 out of 73 (21%) Liberian sera as measured by disruption of rosettes in vitro. However, antibodies able to inhibit CD36 dependent cytoadherence of P. falciparum-infected RBC were not detected in these sera. Erythrocyte rosetting is a geographically widespread phenomenon. Rosetting antibodies seem to be induced by natural infection and the molecular mechanism of rosette formation seems distinct from that of endothelial cytoadherence.

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