Microvascular Sequestration of Parasitized Erythrocytes in Human Falciparum Malaria: a Pathological Study

Emsri PongponratnFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Institute of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Bangkok, Thailand

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Mario RigantiFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Institute of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Bangkok, Thailand

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Benjanee PunpoowongFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Institute of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Bangkok, Thailand

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Masamichi AikawaFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Institute of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Bangkok, Thailand

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Thirty-nine falciparum malaria autopsy cases from the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand were divided into two groups that had had either cerebral malaria (CM) or non-cerebral malaria (NCM). We then studied significant pathological differences between these groups in order to investigate the correlation between parasitized erythrocyte (PRBC) sequestration in small blood vessels in the brain, heart, lungs and small intestines. We found that the percentage of PRBC sequestration in the organs which we studied was higher in the CM patients than in the NCM patients. The difference of PRBC sequestration among the organs of two groups was significant (P < 0.05). In the CM group, the average percentage of PRBC sequestration in the brain was significantly higher than in the heart, lungs and small intestines (P < 0.05). No statistically significant difference was found between PRBC sequestration in the brains, hearts, lungs and small intestines in the NCM group (P > 0.05). Our study indicates that severity of malaria in the CM patients depends on PRBC sequestration, especially in the brain. A combination of functional disturbances of the other organs, in addition to the cerebral pathology, may augment the severity of the disease.

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