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Using an in vitro model of human lung endothelial cells, we studied different characteristics of Plasmodium falciparum isolates as potential factors for malaria severity in 2 Thai patient groups: 27 with complicated malaria and 42 with uncomplicated malaria. In regard to binding properties, no association existed between cytoadherence and rosette phenotypes (P = 0.1) and hypothrombocytemia increased the cytoadherence level (P = 0.007). Cytoadherence was significantly associated with malaria severity (P = 0.05) in contrast to rosette formation (P = 0.9). Intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and chondroitin-4-sulfate were major receptors of cytoadherence in those with complicated malaria compared with those with uncomplicated malaria (P < 10(-4)). Chondroitin-4-sulfate could act as a putative receptor for malaria complications in non-pregnant women. CD36 was the main receptor in patients with uncomplicated malaria (P < 10(-3)). Vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and E-selectin played a minor role in 2 groups (P = 0.6). Qinghaosu derivatives were more efficient than other antimalarial drugs, but a positive correlation was observed between the 50% inhibitory concentrations of halofantrine and quinine and the number of adhesive parasitized red blood cells, suggesting their influence on cytoadherence.