Prof Kevin Marsh
|Research Area:||Global Health|
|Scientific Themes:||Tropical Medicine & Global Health|
|Keywords:||malaria, immunology and epidemiology|
Professor Kevin Marsh has a broad research interest in child health in the tropics, with a particular focus in the immune epidemiology of malaria. As well as directing the KEMRI Wellcome Programme in Kenya, Kevin also coordinates the KEMRI Molecular Parasitology group. The Programme’s research focuses on four main areas: (1) Identifying the protective immune response to malaria (2) the regulation of immune responses (3) Determinants of virulence and (4) Mechanisms of anti malarial drug action and resistance.
Kevin’s particular interest is in capacity building for science in Africa. He has recently secured a major strategic award, from the Wellcome Trust, to support doctoral and post doctoral career development for East African Scientists. Kevin is also a member of many global health advisory groups.
|Prof Chris I Newbold (RDM)||Investigative Medicine Division||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
|Prof Adrian VS Hill||Jenner Institute||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
|Prof David Roberts (RDM)||Nuffield Division of Clinical Laboratory Sciences||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
|David Conway||MRC Laboratories||Gambia|
|S Polley||London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine||United Kingdom|
|Paul Milligan||London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine||United Kingdom|
|Tony Holder||National Institute of Medical Research Mill Hill||United Kingdom|
|Jean Langhorne||National Institute of Medical Research Mill Hill||United Kingdom|
|Dr Alex Rowe||Centers for Disease Control||United States|
|James Beeson||Walter and Eliza Hall Institute Melbourne||Australia|
|Anna Farnert||Karolinska Institute Stockholm||Sweden|
|Ibrahim Ei Hassan||Institute of Endemic Diseases Khartoum||Sudan|
|Gilbert Kokwaro||University of Nairobi||Kenya|
Selection by host immunity and antimalarial drugs has driven extensive adaptive evolution in Plasmodium falciparum, and continues to produce ever-changing landscapes of genetic variation. Hide abstract
Malaria transmission is spatially heterogeneous. This reduces the efficacy of control strategies, but focusing control strategies on clusters or 'hotspots' of transmission may be highly effective. Among 1500 homesteads in coastal Kenya we calculated (a) the fraction of febrile children with positive malaria smears per homestead, and (b) the mean age of children with malaria per homestead. These two measures were inversely correlated, indicating that children in homesteads at higher transmission acquire immunity more rapidly. This inverse correlation increased gradually with increasing spatial scale of analysis, and hotspots of febrile malaria were identified at every scale. We found hotspots within hotspots, down to the level of an individual homestead. Febrile malaria hotspots were temporally unstable, but 4 km radius hotspots could be targeted for 1 month following 1 month periods of surveillance.DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.02130.001. Hide abstract
Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1(PfEMP1) is a family of variant surface antigens (VSA) that mediate the adhesion of parasite infected erythrocytes to capillary endothelial cells within host tissues. Opinion is divided over the role of PfEMP1 in the widespread endothelial activation associated with severe malaria. In a previous study we found evidence for differential associations between defined VSA subsets and specific syndromes of severe malaria: group A-like PfEMP1 expression and the "rosetting" phenotype were associated with impaired consciousness and respiratory distress, respectively. This study explores the involvement of widespread endothelial activation in these associations. Hide abstract
The immune response against the variant surface Ag Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) is a key component of clinical immunity against malaria. We have investigated the development and maintenance of CD4(+) T cell responses to a small semiconserved area of the Duffy binding-like domain (DBL)α-domain of PfEMP1, the DBLα-tag. Young children were followed up longitudinally, and parasites and PBMCs were isolated from 35 patients presenting with an acute case of uncomplicated malaria. The DBLα-tag from the PfEMP1 dominantly expressed by the homologous parasite isolate was cloned and expressed as recombinant protein. The recombinant DBLα-tag was used to activate PBMCs collected from each acute episode and from an annual cross-sectional survey performed after the acute malaria episode. In this article, we report that CD4(+) T cell responses to the homologous DBLα-tag were induced in 75% of the children at the time of the acute episode and in 62% of the children at the following cross-sectional survey on average 235 d later. Furthermore, children who had induced DBLα-tag-specific CD4(+)IL-4(+) T cells at the acute episode remained episode free for longer than children who induced other types of CD4(+) T cell responses. These results suggest that a wide range of DBLα-tag-specific CD4(+) T cell responses were induced in children with mild malaria and, in the case of CD4(+)IL-4(+) T cell responses, were associated with protection from clinical episodes. Hide abstract
Drug resistance remains a chief concern for malaria control. In order to determine the genetic markers of drug resistant parasites, we tested the genome-wide associations (GWA) of sequence-based genotypes from 35 Kenyan P. falciparum parasites with the activities of 22 antimalarial drugs. Hide abstract
MALARIA JOURNAL, 12 (1), pp. 456-456. | Read more2013. Malaria Policy Advisory Committee to the WHO: conclusions and recommendations of September 2013 meeting
Background:Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is increasingly recommended for antimalarial treatment in many endemic countries; however, concerns have been raised over its potential under dosing in young children. We investigated the influence of different dosing schedules on DP's clinical efficacy.Methods and Findings:A systematic search of the literature was conducted to identify all studies published between 1960 and February 2013, in which patients were enrolled and treated with DP. Principal investigators were approached and invited to share individual patient data with the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN). Data were pooled using a standardised methodology. Univariable and multivariable risk factors for parasite recrudescence were identified using a Cox's regression model with shared frailty across the study sites. Twenty-four published and two unpublished studies (n = 7,072 patients) were included in the analysis. After correcting for reinfection by parasite genotyping, Kaplan-Meier survival estimates were 97.7% (95% CI 97.3%-98.1%) at day 42 and 97.2% (95% CI 96.7%-97.7%) at day 63. Overall 28.6% (979/3,429) of children aged 1 to 5 years received a total dose of piperaquine below 48 mg/kg (the lower limit recommended by WHO); this risk was 2.3-2.9-fold greater compared to that in the other age groups and was associated with reduced efficacy at day 63 (94.4% [95% CI 92.6%-96.2%], p<0.001). After adjusting for confounding factors, the mg/kg dose of piperaquine was found to be a significant predictor for recrudescence, the risk increasing by 13% (95% CI 5.0%-21%) for every 5 mg/kg decrease in dose; p = 0.002. In a multivariable model increasing the target minimum total dose of piperaquine in children aged 1 to 5 years old from 48 mg/kg to 59 mg/kg would halve the risk of treatment failure and cure at least 95% of patients; such an increment was not associated with gastrointestinal toxicity in the ten studies in which this could be assessed.Conclusions:DP demonstrates excellent efficacy in a wide range of transmission settings; however, treatment failure is associated with a lower dose of piperaquine, particularly in young children, suggesting potential for further dose optimisation.Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary. © 2013 Price et al. Hide abstract
Malaria, an infectious disease caused by parasites of the Plasmodium genus, is one of the world's major public health concerns causing up to a million deaths annually, mostly because of P. falciparum infections. All of the clinical symptoms are associated with the blood stage of the disease, an obligate part of the parasite life cycle, when a form of the parasite called the merozoite recognizes and invades host erythrocytes. During erythrocyte invasion, merozoites are directly exposed to the host humoral immune system making the blood stage of the parasite a conceptually attractive therapeutic target. Progress in the functional and molecular characterization of P. falciparum merozoite proteins, however, has been hampered by the technical challenges associated with expressing these proteins in a biochemically active recombinant form. This challenge is particularly acute for extracellular proteins, which are the likely targets of host antibody responses, because they contain structurally critical post-translational modifications that are not added by some recombinant expression systems. Here, we report the development of a method that uses a mammalian expression system to compile a protein resource containing the entire ectodomains of 42 P. falciparum merozoite secreted and cell surface proteins, many of which have not previously been characterized. Importantly, we are able to recapitulate known biochemical activities by showing that recombinant MSP1-MSP7 and P12-P41 directly interact, and that both recombinant EBA175 and EBA140 can bind human erythrocytes in a sialic acid-dependent manner. Finally, we use sera from malaria-exposed immune adults to profile the relative immunoreactivity of the proteins and show that the majority of the antigens contain conformational (heat-labile) epitopes. We envisage that this resource of recombinant proteins will make a valuable contribution toward a molecular understanding of the blood stage of P. falciparum infections and facilitate the comparative screening of antigens as blood-stage vaccine candidates. Hide abstract
Elucidating the mechanisms of naturally acquired immunity to Plasmodium falciparum infections would be highly valuable for malaria vaccine development. Asymptomatic multiclonal infections have been shown to predict protection from clinical malaria in a transmission-dependent manner, but the mechanisms underlying this are unclear. We assessed the breadth of antibody responses to several vaccine candidate merozoite antigens in relation to the infecting parasite population and clinical immunity. Hide abstract
LANCET, 382 pp. 5-5.2013. Sharing methods for global health research: an assessment of methodology
RTS,S is the most advanced candidate malaria vaccine but it is only partially protective and the causes of inter-individual variation in efficacy are poorly understood. Here, we investigated whether peripheral blood monocyte-to-lymphocyte ratios (ML ratio), previously shown to correlate with clinical malaria risk, could account for differences in RTS,S efficacy among phase II trial participants in Africa. Hide abstract
Antibodies to selected Plasmodium falciparum merozoite antigens are often reported to be associated with protection from malaria in one epidemiological cohort, but not in another. Here, we sought to understand this paradox by exploring the hypothesis that a threshold concentration of antibodies is necessary for protection. We analyzed data from two independent cohorts along the Kenyan coast, one in which antibodies to AMA1, MSP-2 and MSP-3 were associated with protection from malaria (Chonyi) and another in which this association was not observed (Junju). We used a malaria reference reagent to standardize antibody measurements across both cohorts, and applied statistical methods to derive the threshold concentration of antibodies against each antigen that best correlated with a reduced risk of malaria (the protective threshold), in the Chonyi cohort. We then tested whether antibodies in Junju reached the protective threshold concentrations observed in the Chonyi cohort. Except for children under 3 years, the age-matched proportions of children achieving protective threshold concentrations of antibodies against AMA1 and MSP-2 were significantly lower in Junju compared to Chonyi (Fishers exact test, P < 0.01). For MSP-3, this difference was significant only among 4-5 year olds. We conclude that although antibodies are commonly detected in malaria endemic populations, they may be present in concentrations that are insufficient for protection. Our results have implications for the analysis and interpretation of similar data from immuno-epidemiological studies. © 2013 The Authors. Hide abstract
Abs that inhibit Plasmodium falciparum invasion of erythrocytes form an important component of human immunity against malaria, but key target Ags are largely unknown. Phenotypic variation by P. falciparum mediates the evasion of inhibitory Abs, contributing to the capacity of P. falciparum to cause repeat and chronic infections. However, Ags involved in mediating immune evasion have not been defined, and studies of the function of human Abs are limited. In this study, we used novel approaches to determine the importance of P. falciparum erythrocyte-binding Ags (EBAs), which are important invasion ligands, as targets of human invasion-inhibitory Abs and define their role in contributing to immune evasion through variation in function. We evaluated the invasion-inhibitory activity of acquired Abs from malaria-exposed children and adults from Kenya, using P. falciparum with disruption of genes encoding EBA140, EBA175, and EBA181, either individually or combined as EBA140/EBA175 or EBA175/EBA181 double knockouts. Our findings provide important new evidence that variation in the expression and function of the EBAs plays an important role in evasion of acquired Abs and that a substantial amount of phenotypic diversity results from variation in expression of different EBAs that contributes to immune evasion by P. falciparum. All three EBAs were identified as important targets of naturally acquired inhibitory Abs demonstrated by differential inhibition of parental parasites greater than EBA knockout lines. This knowledge will help to advance malaria vaccine development and suggests that multiple invasion ligands need to be targeted to overcome the capacity of P. falciparum for immune evasion. Hide abstract
Antibodies to P. falciparum apical membrane protein 1 (AMA1) may contribute to protective immunity against clinical malaria by inhibiting blood stage growth of P. falciparum, and AMA1 is a leading malaria vaccine candidate. Currently, there is limited knowledge of the acquisition of strain-specific and cross-reactive antibodies to AMA1 in humans, or the acquisition of invasion-inhibitory antibodies to AMA1. Hide abstract
Antibodies to selected Plasmodium falciparum merozoite antigens are often reported to be associated with protection from malaria in one epidemiological cohort, but not in another. Here, we sought to understand this paradox by exploring the hypothesis that a threshold concentration of antibodies is necessary for protection. We analyzed data from two independent cohorts along the Kenyan coast, one in which antibodies to AMA1, MSP-2 and MSP-3 were associated with protection from malaria (Chonyi) and another in which this association was not observed (Junju). We used a malaria reference reagent to standardize antibody measurements across both cohorts, and applied statistical methods to derive the threshold concentration of antibodies against each antigen that best correlated with a reduced risk of malaria (the protective threshold), in the Chonyi cohort. We then tested whether antibodies in Junju reached the protective threshold concentrations observed in the Chonyi cohort. Except for children under 3 years, the age-matched proportions of children achieving protective threshold concentrations of antibodies against AMA1 and MSP-2 were significantly lower in Junju compared to Chonyi (Fishers exact test, P<0.01). For MSP-3, this difference was significant only among 4-5 year olds. We conclude that although antibodies are commonly detected in malaria endemic populations, they may be present in concentrations that are insufficient for protection. Our results have implications for the analysis and interpretation of similar data from immuno-epidemiological studies. Hide abstract
MALARIA JOURNAL, 12 (1), pp. 213-213. | Read more2013. Malaria Policy Advisory Committee to the WHO: conclusions and recommendations of March 2013 meeting
Combining data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) conducted at different locations, using genotype imputation and fixed-effects meta-analysis, has been a powerful approach for dissecting complex disease genetics in populations of European ancestry. Here we investigate the feasibility of applying the same approach in Africa, where genetic diversity, both within and between populations, is far more extensive. We analyse genome-wide data from approximately 5,000 individuals with severe malaria and 7,000 population controls from three different locations in Africa. Our results show that the standard approach is well powered to detect known malaria susceptibility loci when sample sizes are large, and that modern methods for association analysis can control the potential confounding effects of population structure. We show that pattern of association around the haemoglobin S allele differs substantially across populations due to differences in haplotype structure. Motivated by these observations we consider new approaches to association analysis that might prove valuable for multicentre GWAS in Africa: we relax the assumptions of SNP-based fixed effect analysis; we apply Bayesian approaches to allow for heterogeneity in the effect of an allele on risk across studies; and we introduce a region-based test to allow for heterogeneity in the location of causal alleles. Hide abstract
The candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01E has entered phase 3 trials, but data on long-term outcomes are limited. Hide abstract
Early identification of causal genetic variants underlying antimalarial drug resistance could provide robust epidemiological tools for timely public health interventions. Using a novel natural genetics strategy for mapping novel candidate genes we analyzed >75,000 high quality single nucleotide polymorphisms selected from high-resolution whole-genome sequencing data in 27 isolates of Plasmodium falciparum. We identified genetic variants associated with susceptibility to dihydroartemisinin that implicate one region on chromosome 13, a candidate gene on chromosome 1 (PFA0220w, a UBP1 ortholog) and others (PFB0560w, PFB0630c, PFF0445w) with putative roles in protein homeostasis and stress response. There was a strong signal for positive selection on PFA0220w, but not the other candidate loci. Our results demonstrate the power of full-genome sequencing-based association studies for uncovering candidate genes that determine parasite sensitivity to artemisinins. Our study provides a unique reference for the interpretation of results from resistant infections. Hide abstract
Prospective studies continue to identify malaria parasite genes with particular patterns of polymorphism which indicate they may be under immune selection, and the encoded proteins require investigation. Sixteen new recombinant protein reagents were designed to characterize three such polymorphic proteins expressed in Plasmodium falciparum schizonts and merozoites: MSPDBL1 (also termed MSP3.4) and MSPDBL2 (MSP3.8), which possess Duffy binding-like (DBL) domains, and SURFIN4.2, encoded by a member of the surface-associated interspersed (surf) multigene family. After testing the antigenicities of these reagents by murine immunization and parasite immunofluorescence, we analyzed naturally acquired antibody responses to the antigens in two cohorts in coastal Kenya in which the parasite was endemic (Chonyi [n = 497] and Ngerenya [n = 461]). As expected, the prevalence and levels of serum antibodies increased with age. We then investigated correlations with subsequent risk of clinical malaria among children <11 years of age during 6 months follow-up surveillance. Antibodies to the polymorphic central region of MSPDBL2 were associated with reduced risk of malaria in both cohorts, with statistical significance remaining for the 3D7 allelic type after adjustment for individuals' ages in years and antibody reactivity to whole-schizont extract (Chonyi, risk ratio, 0.51, and 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.28 to 0.93; Ngerenya, risk ratio, 0.38, and 95% CI, 0.18 to 0.82). For the MSPDBL1 Palo Alto allelic-type antigen, there was a protective association in one cohort (Ngerenya, risk ratio, 0.53, and 95% CI, 0.32 to 0.89), whereas the other antigens showed no protective associations after adjustment. These findings support the prediction that antibodies to the polymorphic region of MSPDBL2 contribute to protective immunity. Hide abstract
Acquired immunity to Plasmodium falciparum infection causes a change from frequent, sometimes life-threatening, malaria in young children to asymptomatic, chronic infections in older children and adults. Little is known about how this transition occurs but antibodies to the extremely diverse PfEMP1 parasite antigens are thought to play a role. PfEMP1 is encoded by a family of 60 var genes that undergo clonal antigenic variation, potentially creating an antigenically heterogeneous infecting population of parasites within the host. Previous theoretical work suggests that antibodies to PfEMP1 may play a role in "orchestrating" their expression within infections leading to sequential, homogeneous expression of var genes, and prolonged infection chronicity. Here, using a cloning and sequencing approach we compare the var expression homogeneity (VEH) between isolates from children with asymptomatic and clinical infections. We show that asymptomatic infections have higher VEH than clinical infections and a broader host antibody response. We discuss this in relation to the potential role of host antibodies in promoting chronicity of infection and parasite survival through the low transmission season. Hide abstract
Children in malaria endemic areas acquire immunity to severe malaria faster than to mild malaria. Only a minority of children suffers from severe malaria and it is not known what determines this. The aim of this study was to establish how P. falciparum infections during the first years of life affect the risk of severe malaria. A matched case-control study was nested within a large birth cohort set up to study the immunoepidemiology of pneumococci on the Kenyan coast. Infection patterns in three-monthly blood samples in cohort children admitted to hospital with severe malaria were compared to controls matched on age, residential location and time of sampling. P. falciparum detected at least once from birth conferred an increased risk of severe malaria and particularly if multiclonal infections, as characterized by genotyping of a polymorphic antigen gene, were ever detected. The results show for the first time that children with severe malaria have more infections early in life compared to community controls. These findings provide important insights on the immunity to severe disease, knowledge essential for the development of a vaccine against severe malaria. Hide abstract
Plasmodium falciparum malaria remains a major cause of illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. Young children bear the brunt of the disease and though older children and adults suffer relatively fewer clinical attacks, they remain susceptible to asymptomatic P. falciparum infection. A better understanding of the host factors associated with immunity to clinical malaria and the ability to sustain asymptomatic P. falciparum infection will aid the development of improved strategies for disease prevention. Hide abstract
Multiparameter flow cytometry has revealed extensive phenotypic and functional heterogeneity of CD4 T cell responses in mice and humans, emphasizing the importance of assessing multiple aspects of the immune response in correlation with infection or vaccination outcome. The aim of this study was to establish and validate reliable and feasible flow cytometry assays, which will allow us to characterize CD4 T cell population in humans in field studies more fully. Hide abstract
Naturally acquired immunity to malaria develops slowly, requiring several years of repeated exposure to be effective. The cellular and molecular factors underlying this observation are only partially understood. Recent studies suggest that chronic Plasmodium falciparum exposure may induce functional exhaustion of lymphocytes, potentially impeding optimal control of infection. However, it remains unclear whether the "atypical" memory B cells (MBCs) and "exhausted" CD4 T cells described in humans exposed to endemic malaria are driven by P. falciparum per se or by other factors commonly associated with malaria, such as coinfections and malnutrition. To address this critical question we took advantage of a "natural" experiment near Kilifi, Kenya, and compared profiles of B and T cells of children living in a rural community where P. falciparum transmission is ongoing to the profiles of age-matched children living under similar conditions in a nearby community where P. falciparum transmission ceased 5 y prior to this study. We found that continuous exposure to P. falciparum drives the expansion of atypical MBCs. Persistent P. falciparum exposure was associated with an increased frequency of CD4 T cells expressing phenotypic markers of exhaustion, both programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) alone and PD-1 in combination with lymphocyte-activation gene-3 (LAG-3). This expansion of PD-1-expressing and PD-1/LAG-3-coexpressing CD4 T cells was largely confined to CD45RA(+) CD4 T cells. The percentage of CD45RA(+)CD27(+) CD4 T cells coexpressing PD-1 and LAG-3 was inversely correlated with frequencies of activated and classical MBCs. Taken together, these results suggest that P. falciparum infection per se drives the expansion of atypical MBCs and phenotypically exhausted CD4 T cells, which has been reported in other endemic areas. Hide abstract
The candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01 reduced episodes of both clinical and severe malaria in children 5 to 17 months of age by approximately 50% in an ongoing phase 3 trial. We studied infants 6 to 12 weeks of age recruited for the same trial. Hide abstract
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL FOR PARASITOLOGY, 42 (10), pp. 961-961. | Read more2012. Naturally acquired immune responses against Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites and liver infection (vol 42, pg 535, 2012)
Plasmodium falciparum is the major cause of malaria globally and is transmitted by mosquitoes. During parasitic development, P. falciparum-infected erythrocytes (P. falciparum-IEs) express multiple polymorphic proteins known as variant surface antigens (VSAs), including the P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1). VSA-specific antibodies are associated with protection from symptomatic and severe malaria. However, the importance of the different VSA targets of immunity to malaria remains unclear, which has impeded an understanding of malaria immunity and vaccine development. In this study, we developed assays using transgenic P. falciparum with modified PfEMP1 expression to quantify serum antibodies to VSAs among individuals exposed to malaria. We found that the majority of the human antibody response to the IE targets PfEMP1. Furthermore, our longitudinal studies showed that individuals with PfEMP1-specific antibodies had a significantly reduced risk of developing symptomatic malaria, whereas antibodies to other surface antigens were not associated with protective immunity. Using assays that measure antibody-mediated phagocytosis of IEs, an important mechanism in parasite clearance, we identified PfEMP1 as the major target of these functional antibodies. Taken together, these data demonstrate that PfEMP1 is a key target of humoral immunity. These findings advance our understanding of the targets and mediators of human immunity to malaria and have major implications for malaria vaccine development. Hide abstract
Malaria elimination strategies require surveillance of the parasite population for genetic changes that demand a public health response, such as new forms of drug resistance. Here we describe methods for the large-scale analysis of genetic variation in Plasmodium falciparum by deep sequencing of parasite DNA obtained from the blood of patients with malaria, either directly or after short-term culture. Analysis of 86,158 exonic single nucleotide polymorphisms that passed genotyping quality control in 227 samples from Africa, Asia and Oceania provides genome-wide estimates of allele frequency distribution, population structure and linkage disequilibrium. By comparing the genetic diversity of individual infections with that of the local parasite population, we derive a metric of within-host diversity that is related to the level of inbreeding in the population. An open-access web application has been established for the exploration of regional differences in allele frequency and of highly differentiated loci in the P.falciparum genome. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Hide abstract
Malaria elimination strategies require surveillance of the parasite population for genetic changes that demand a public health response, such as new forms of drug resistance. Here we describe methods for the large-scale analysis of genetic variation in Plasmodium falciparum by deep sequencing of parasite DNA obtained from the blood of patients with malaria, either directly or after short-term culture. Analysis of 86,158 exonic single nucleotide polymorphisms that passed genotyping quality control in 227 samples from Africa, Asia and Oceania provides genome-wide estimates of allele frequency distribution, population structure and linkage disequilibrium. By comparing the genetic diversity of individual infections with that of the local parasite population, we derive a metric of within-host diversity that is related to the level of inbreeding in the population. An open-access web application has been established for the exploration of regional differences in allele frequency and of highly differentiated loci in the P. falciparum genome. Hide abstract
Humans respond to foreign antigen by generating plasma Abs and memory B cells (MBCs). The Ab response then declines, sometimes to below the limit of detection. In contrast, MBCs are generally thought to be long-lived. We tested and compared Plasmodium falciparum (Pf)-specific Ab and MBC responses in two populations of children: (i) previously exposed children who had documented Pf infections several years ago, but minimal exposure since then; and (ii) persistently exposed children living in a separate but nearby endemic area. We found that although Pf-specific plasma Abs were lower in previously exposed children compared with persistently exposed children, their cognate MBCs were maintained at similar frequencies. We conclude that serological analysis by itself would greatly underestimate the true memory of Pf-specific Ab responses in previously exposed children living in areas where Pf transmission has been reduced or eliminated. Hide abstract
MALARIA JOURNAL, 11 (1), pp. 137-137. | Read more2012. Inaugural meeting of the malaria policy advisory committee to the WHO: conclusions and recommendations
The Kilifi Health and Demographic Surveillance System (KHDSS), located on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya, was established in 2000 as a record of births, pregnancies, migration events and deaths and is maintained by 4-monthly household visits. The study area was selected to capture the majority of patients admitted to Kilifi District Hospital. The KHDSS has 260 000 residents and the hospital admits 4400 paediatric patients and 3400 adult patients per year. At the hospital, morbidity events are linked in real time by a computer search of the population register. Linked surveillance was extended to KHDSS vaccine clinics in 2008. KHDSS data have been used to define the incidence of hospital presentation with childhood infectious diseases (e.g. rotavirus diarrhoea, pneumococcal disease), to test the association between genetic risk factors (e.g. thalassaemia and sickle cell disease) and infectious diseases, to define the community prevalence of chronic diseases (e.g. epilepsy), to evaluate access to health care and to calculate the operational effectiveness of major public health interventions (e.g. conjugate Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine). Rapport with residents is maintained through an active programme of community engagement. A system of collaborative engagement exists for sharing data on survival, morbidity, socio-economic status and vaccine coverage. Hide abstract
PfEMP1 is a family of cytoadhesive surface antigens expressed on erythrocytes infected with Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most severe form of malaria. These surface antigens play a role in immune evasion and are thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of the malaria parasite. Previous studies have suggested a role for a specific subset of PfEMP1 called "group A" in severe malaria. To explore the role of group A PfEMP1 in disease, we measured the expression of the var genes that encode them in parasites from clinical isolates collected from children suffering from malaria. We also looked at the ability of these clinical isolates to induce rosetting of erythrocytes, which indicates a cytoadhesion phenotype that is thought to be important in pathogenesis. These two sets of data were correlated with the presence of two life-threatening manifestations of severe malaria in the children: impaired consciousness and respiratory distress. Using regression analysis, we show that marked rosetting was associated with respiratory distress, whereas elevated expression of group A-like var genes without elevated rosetting was associated with impaired consciousness. The results suggest that manifestations of malarial disease may reflect the distribution of cytoadhesion phenotypes expressed by the infecting parasite population. Hide abstract
Although antibodies are critical for immunity to malaria, their functional attributes that determine protection remain unclear. We tested for associations between antibody avidities to Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) antigens and age, asymptomatic parasitaemia, malaria exposure index (a distance weighted local malaria prevalence) and immunity to febrile malaria during 10-months of prospective follow up. Hide abstract
International Journal for Parasitology, 42 (10), pp. 961-961. | Read more2012. Erratum to ‘‘Naturally acquired immune responses against Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites and liver infection” [Int. J. Parasitol. 42 (2012) 535–548]
International Journal for Parasitology,2012. Erratum to ''Naturally acquired immune responses against Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites and liver infection" [Int. J. Parasitol. 42 (2012) 535-548] (DOI:10.1016/j.ijpara.2012.03.011)
Studies of the fine-scale spatial epidemiology of malaria consistently identify malaria hotspots, comprising clusters of homesteads at high transmission intensity. These hotspots sustain transmission, and may be targeted by malaria-control programmes. Here we describe the spatial relationship between the location of Anopheles larval sites and human malaria infection in a cohort study of 642 children, aged 1-10-years-old. Our data suggest that proximity to larval sites predict human malaria infection, when homesteads are upwind of larval sites, but not when homesteads are downwind of larval sites. We conclude that following oviposition, female Anophelines fly upwind in search for human hosts and, thus, malaria transmission may be disrupted by targeting vector larval sites in close proximity, and downwind to malaria hotspots. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Hide abstract
Malaria is a vector-borne infectious disease caused by infection with eukaryotic pathogens termed . Plasmodium. Epidemiological hallmarks of . Plasmodium falciparum malaria are continuous re-infections, over which time the human host may experience several clinical malaria episodes, slow acquisition of partial protection against infection, and its partial decay upon migration away from endemic regions. To overcome the exposure-dependence of naturally acquired immunity and rapidly elicit robust long-term protection are ultimate goals of malaria vaccine development. However, cellular and molecular correlates of naturally acquired immunity against either parasite infection or malarial disease remain elusive. Sero-epidemiological studies consistently suggest that acquired immunity is primarily directed against the asexual blood stages. Here, we review available data on the relationship between immune responses against the . Anopheles mosquito-transmitted sporozoite and exo-erythrocytic liver stages and the incidence of malaria. We discuss current limitations and research opportunities, including the identification of additional sporozoite antigens and the use of systematic immune profiling and functional studies in longitudinal cohorts to look for pre-erythrocytic signatures of naturally acquired immunity. © 2012 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc.. Hide abstract
Malaria is a vector-borne infectious disease caused by infection with eukaryotic pathogens termed Plasmodium. Epidemiological hallmarks of Plasmodium falciparum malaria are continuous re-infections, over which time the human host may experience several clinical malaria episodes, slow acquisition of partial protection against infection, and its partial decay upon migration away from endemic regions. To overcome the exposure-dependence of naturally acquired immunity and rapidly elicit robust long-term protection are ultimate goals of malaria vaccine development. However, cellular and molecular correlates of naturally acquired immunity against either parasite infection or malarial disease remain elusive. Sero-epidemiological studies consistently suggest that acquired immunity is primarily directed against the asexual blood stages. Here, we review available data on the relationship between immune responses against the Anopheles mosquito-transmitted sporozoite and exo-erythrocytic liver stages and the incidence of malaria. We discuss current limitations and research opportunities, including the identification of additional sporozoite antigens and the use of systematic immune profiling and functional studies in longitudinal cohorts to look for pre-erythrocytic signatures of naturally acquired immunity. Hide abstract
Understanding the historical, temporal changes of malaria risk following control efforts in Africa provides a unique insight into what has been and might be archived towards a long-term ambition of elimination on the continent. Here, we use archived published and unpublished material combined with biological constraints on transmission accompanied by a narrative on malaria control to document the changing incidence of malaria in Africa since earliest reports pre-second World War. One result is a more informed mapped definition of the changing margins of transmission in 1939, 1959, 1979, 1999 and 2009. Hide abstract
Heterogeneity in malaria exposure complicates survival analyses of vaccine efficacy trials and confounds the association between immune correlates of protection and malaria infection in longitudinal studies. Analysis may be facilitated by taking into account the variability in individual exposure levels, but it is unclear how exposure can be estimated at an individual level. Hide abstract
The combination therapy of the Artemisinin-derivative Artemether (ART) with Lumefantrine (LM) (Coartem®) is an important malaria treatment regimen in many endemic countries. Resistance to Artemisinin has already been reported, and it is feared that LM resistance (LMR) could also evolve quickly. Therefore molecular markers which can be used to track Coartem® efficacy are urgently needed. Often, stable resistance arises from initial, unstable phenotypes that can be identified in vitro. Here we have used the Plasmodium falciparum multidrug resistant reference strain V1S to induce LMR in vitro by culturing the parasite under continuous drug pressure for 16 months. The initial IC(50) (inhibitory concentration that kills 50% of the parasite population) was 24 nM. The resulting resistant strain V1S(LM), obtained after culture for an estimated 166 cycles under LM pressure, grew steadily in 378 nM of LM, corresponding to 15 times the IC(50) of the parental strain. However, after two weeks of culturing V1S(LM) in drug-free medium, the IC(50) returned to that of the initial, parental strain V1S. This transient drug tolerance was associated with major changes in gene expression profiles: using the PFSANGER Affymetrix custom array, we identified 184 differentially expressed genes in V1S(LM). Among those are 18 known and putative transporters including the multidrug resistance gene 1 (pfmdr1), the multidrug resistance associated protein and the V-type H+ pumping pyrophosphatase 2 (pfvp2) as well as genes associated with fatty acid metabolism. In addition we detected a clear selective advantage provided by two genomic loci in parasites grown under LM drug pressure, suggesting that all, or some of those genes contribute to development of LM tolerance--they may prove useful as molecular markers to monitor P. falciparum LM susceptibility. Hide abstract
Memory B cells (MBCs) are a key component of long term humoral immunity to many human infectious diseases. Despite their importance, we know little about the generation or maintenance of antigen-(Ag)-specific MBCs in humans in response to infection. A frequently employed method for quantifying Ag-specific MBCs in human peripheral blood (Crotty et al., 2004) relies on the ability of MBCs but not naïve B cells to differentiate into antibody secreting cells (ASCs) in response to polyclonal activators and Toll-like receptor agonists in vitro and the measurement of Ag-specific ASCs by ELISPOT assays. Here we report on studies to optimize the efficiency of this ELISPOT-based assay and to apply this assay to the detection of Plasmodium falciparum (Pf)-specific MBCs in adults living in a malaria endemic area where immunity to Pf is acquired through natural infection. We show that the addition of IL-10 to in vitro cultures of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells increased the efficiency of the assay from 10% to over 90% without increasing the ASC burst size and without any substantial increase in background from naïve B cells or plasma cells (PCs). Using this assay we were able to quantify the frequency of Pf-specific MBCs in peripheral blood of adults living in a malaria endemic area. Thus, this highly efficient assay appears to be well suited to field studies of the generation and maintenance of MBCs where the volumes of blood obtainable are often limiting. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. Hide abstract
The Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) is a variant surface antigen expressed on mature forms of infected erythrocytes. It is considered an important target of naturally acquired immunity. Despite its extreme sequence heterogeneity, variants of PfEMP1 can be stratified into distinct groups. Group A PfEMP1 have been independently associated with low host immunity and severe disease in several studies and are now of potential interest as vaccine candidates. Although antigen-specific antibodies are considered the main effector mechanism in immunity to malaria, the induction of efficient and long-lasting antibody responses requires CD4+ T-cell help. To date, very little is known about CD4+ T-cell responses to PfEMP1 expressed on clinical isolates. The DBLα-tag is a small region from the DBLα-domain of PfEMP1 that can be amplified with universal primers and is accessible in clinical parasite isolates. We identified the dominant expressed PfEMP1 in 41 individual clinical parasite isolates and expressed the corresponding DBLα-tag as recombinant antigen. Individual DBLα-tags were then used to activate CD4+ T-cells from acute and convalescent blood samples in children who were infected with the respective clinical parasite isolate. Here we show that CD4+ T-cell responses to the homologous DBLα-tag were induced in almost all children during acute malaria and maintained in some for 4 months. Children infected with parasites that dominantly expressed group A-like PfEMP1 were more likely to maintain antigen-specific IFNγ-producing CD4+ T-cells than children infected with parasites dominantly expressing other PfEMP1. These results suggest that group A-like PfEMP1 may induce long-lasting effector memory T-cells that might be able to provide rapid help to variant-specific B cells. Furthermore, a number of children induced CD4+ T-cell responses to heterologous DBLα-tags, suggesting that CD4+ T-cells may recognise shared epitopes between several DBLα-tags. Hide abstract
Studies of the fine-scale spatial epidemiology of malaria consistently identify malaria hotspots, comprising clusters of homesteads at high transmission intensity. These hotspots sustain transmission, and may be targeted by malaria-control programmes. Here we describe the spatial relationship between the location of Anopheles larval sites and human malaria infection in a cohort study of 642 children, aged 1-10-years-old. Our data suggest that proximity to larval sites predict human malaria infection, when homesteads are upwind of larval sites, but not when homesteads are downwind of larval sites. We conclude that following oviposition, female Anophelines fly upwind in search for human hosts and, thus, malaria transmission may be disrupted by targeting vector larval sites in close proximity, and downwind to malaria hotspots. Hide abstract
An ongoing phase 3 study of the efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity of candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01 is being conducted in seven African countries. Hide abstract
To explore excess paediatric mortality after discharge from Kilifi District Hospital, Kenya, and its duration and risk factors. Hide abstract
Many investigators have suggested that malaria infection predisposes individuals to bacteraemia. We tested this hypothesis with mendelian randomisation studies of children with the malaria-protective phenotype of sickle-cell trait (HbAS). Hide abstract
Malaria-specific antibody responses in children often appear to be short-lived but the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are not well understood. In this study, we investigated the relationship between the B-cell activating factor (BAFF) and its receptors expressed on B cells with antibody responses during and after acute malaria in children. Our results demonstrate that BAFF plasma levels increased during acute malarial disease and reflected disease severity. The expression profiles for BAFF receptors on B cells agreed with rapid activation and differentiation of a proportion of B cells to plasma cells. However, BAFF receptor (BAFF-R) expression was reduced on all peripheral blood B cells during acute infection, but those children with the highest level of BAFF-R expression on B cells maintained schizont-specific immunoglobin G (IgG) over a period of 4 months, indicating that dysregulation of BAFF-R expression on B cells may contribute to short-lived antibody responses to malarial antigens in children. In summary, this study suggests a potential role for BAFF during malaria disease, both as a marker for disease severity and in shaping the differentiation pattern of antigen-specific B cells. Hide abstract
An effective malaria vaccine, deployed in conjunction with other malaria interventions, is likely to substantially reduce the malaria burden. Efficacy against severe malaria will be a key driver for decisions on implementation. An initial study of an RTS, S vaccine candidate showed promising efficacy against severe malaria in children in Mozambique. Further evidence of its protective efficacy will be gained in a pivotal, multi-centre, phase III study. This paper describes the case definitions of severe malaria used in this study and the programme for standardized assessment of severe malaria according to the case definition. Hide abstract
RTS,S/AS01(E) is the lead candidate malaria vaccine and confers pre-erythrocytic immunity. Vaccination may therefore impact acquired immunity to blood-stage malaria parasites after natural infection. Hide abstract
Falciparum malaria is an important cause of acute symptomatic seizures in children admitted to hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa, and these seizures are associated with neurological disabilities and epilepsy. However, it is difficult to determine the proportion of seizures attributable to malaria in endemic areas since a significant proportion of asymptomatic children have malaria parasitaemia. We studied children aged 0-13 years who had been admitted with a history of seizures to a rural Kenyan hospital between 2002 and 2008. We examined the changes in the incidence of seizures with the reduction of malaria. Logistic regression was used to model malaria-attributable fractions for seizures (the proportion of seizures caused by malaria) to determine if the observed decrease in acute symptomatic seizures was a measure of seizures that are attributable to malaria. The overall incidence of acute symptomatic seizures over the period was 651/100,000/year (95% confidence interval 632-670) and it was 400/100,000/year (95% confidence interval 385-415) for acute complex symptomatic seizures (convulsive status epilepticus, repetitive or focal) and 163/100,000/year (95% confidence interval 154-173) for febrile seizures. From 2002 to 2008, the incidence of all acute symptomatic seizures decreased by 809/100,000/year (69.2%) with 93.1% of this decrease in malaria-associated seizures. The decrease in the incidence of acute complex symptomatic seizures during the period was 111/100,000/year (57.2%) for convulsive status epilepticus, 440/100,000/year (73.7%) for repetitive seizures and 153/100,000/year (80.5%) for focal seizures. The adjusted malaria-attributable fractions for seizures with parasitaemia were 92.9% (95% confidence interval 90.4-95.1%) for all acute symptomatic seizures, 92.9% (95% confidence interval 89.4-95.5%) for convulsive status epilepticus, 93.6% (95% confidence interval 90.9-95.9%) for repetitive seizures and 91.8% (95% confidence interval 85.6-95.5%) for focal seizures. The adjusted malaria-attributable fractions for seizures in children above 6 months of age decreased with age. The observed decrease in all acute symptomatic seizures (809/100 000/year) was similar to the predicted decline (794/100,000/year) estimated by malaria-attributable fractions at the beginning of the study. In endemic areas, falciparum malaria is the most common cause of seizures and the risk for seizures in malaria decreases with age. The reduction in malaria has decreased the burden of seizures that are attributable to malaria and this could lead to reduced neurological disabilities and epilepsy in the area. Hide abstract
Our understanding of the basis of severe disease in malaria is incomplete. It is clear that pathology is in part related to the pro-inflammatory nature of the host response but a number of other factors are also thought to be involved, including the interaction between infected erythrocytes and endothelium. This is a complex system involving several host receptors and a major parasite-derived variant antigen (PfEMP1) expressed on the surface of the infected erythrocyte membrane. Previous studies have suggested a role for ICAM-1 in the pathology of cerebral malaria, although these have been inconclusive. In this study we have examined the cytoadherence patterns of 101 patient isolates from varying clinical syndromes to CD36 and ICAM-1, and have used variant ICAM-1 proteins to further characterise this adhesive phenotype. Our results show that increased binding to CD36 is associated with uncomplicated malaria while ICAM-1 adhesion is raised in parasites from cerebral malaria cases. Hide abstract
Protective immunity to malaria is acquired after repeated infections in endemic areas. Asymptomatic multiclonal P. falciparum infections are common and may predict host protection. Here, we have investigated the effect of clearing asymptomatic infections on the risk of clinical malaria. Hide abstract
The World Health Organization has declared Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA) a public health priority. There are 300,000 births/year, over 75% in Africa, with estimates suggesting that 6 million Africans will be living with SCA if average survival reaches half the African norm. Countries such as United States of America and United Kingdom have reduced SCA mortality from 3 to 0.13 per 100 person years of observation (PYO), with interventions such as newborn screening, prevention of infections and comprehensive care, but implementation of interventions in African countries has been hindered by lack of locally appropriate information. The objective of this study was to determine the incidence and factors associated with death from SCA in Dar-es-Salaam. Hide abstract
Background: The reservoir of Plasmodium infection in humans has traditionally been defined by blood slide positivity. This study was designed to characterize the local reservoir of infection in relation to the diverse var genes that encode the major surface antigen of Plasmodium falciparum blood stages and underlie the parasite's ability to establish chronic infection and transmit from human to mosquito. Methodology/Principal Findings: We investigated the molecular epidemiology of the var multigene family at local sites in Gabon, Senegal and Kenya which differ in parasite prevalence and transmission intensity. 1839 distinct var gene types were defined by sequencing DBLα domains in the three sites. Only 76 (4.1%) var types were found in more than one population indicating spatial heterogeneity in var types across the African continent. The majority of var types appeared only once in the population sample. Non-parametric statistical estimators predict in each population at minimum five to seven thousand distinct var types. Similar diversity of var types was seen in sites with different parasite prevalences. Conclusions/Significance: Var population genomics provides new insights into the epidemiology of P. falciparum in Africa where malaria has never been conquered. In particular, we have described the extensive reservoir of infection in local African sites and discovered a unique var population structure that can facilitate superinfection through minimal overlap in var repertoires among parasite genomes. Our findings show that var typing as a molecular surveillance system defines the extent of genetic complexity in the reservoir of infection to complement measures of malaria prevalence. The observed small scale spatial diversity of var genes suggests that var genetics could greatly inform current malaria mapping approaches and predict complex malaria population dynamics due to the import of var types to areas where no widespread pre-existing immunity in the population exists. © 2011 Chen et al. Hide abstract
Background: In sub-Saharan Africa, Plasmodium falciparum and hepatitis A (HAV) infections are common, especially in children. Co-infections with these two pathogens may therefore occur, but it is unknown if temporal clustering exists. Materials and Methods: We studied the pattern of co-infection of P. falciparum malaria and acute HAV in Kenyan children under the age of 5 years in a cohort of children presenting with uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria. HAV status was determined during a 3-month follow-up period. Discussion: Among 222 cases of uncomplicated malaria, 10 patients were anti-HAV IgM positive. The incidence of HAV infections during P. falciparum malaria was 1.7 (95% CI 0.81-3.1) infections/person-year while the cumulative incidence of HAV over the 3-month follow-up period was 0.27 (95% CI 0.14-0.50) infections/person-year. Children with or without HAV co-infections had similar mean P. falciparum asexual parasite densities at presentation (31,000/μL vs. 34,000/μL, respectively), largely exceeding the pyrogenic threshold of 2,500 parasites/μL in this population and minimizing risk of over-diagnosis of malaria as an explanation. Conclusion: The observed temporal association between acute HAV and P. falciparum malaria suggests that co-infections of these two hepatotrophic human pathogens may result from changes in host susceptibility. Testing this hypothesis will require larger prospective studies. © 2011 Klein Klouwenberg et al. Hide abstract
INFECTION AND IMMUNITY, 79 (4), pp. 1804-1804. | Read more2011. Analysis of Immunity to Febrile Malaria in Children That Distinguishes Immunity from Lack of Exposure (vol 77, pg 1917, 2009)
RTS,S/AS01(E) is the lead candidate pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine. In Phase IIb field trials the safety profile was acceptable and the efficacy was 53% (95%CI 31%-72%) for protecting children against clinical malaria caused by P. falciparum. We studied CS-specific T cell responses in order to identify correlates of protection. Hide abstract
The emergence of artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum malaria in South-East Asia highlights the need for continued global surveillance of the efficacy of artemisinin-based combination therapies. Hide abstract
RTS,S/AS01E is the lead candidate malaria vaccine. We recently showed efficacy against clinical falciparum malaria in 5-17 month old children, during an average of 8 months follow-up. We aimed to assess the efficacy of RTS,S/AS01E during 15 months of follow-up. Hide abstract
Memory B cells (MBCs) are a key component of long term humoral immunity to many human infectious diseases. Despite their importance, we know little about the generation or maintenance of antigen-(Ag)-specific MBCs in humans in response to infection. A frequently employed method for quantifying Ag-specific MBCs in human peripheral blood (Crotty et al., 2004) relies on the ability of MBCs but not naïve B cells to differentiate into antibody secreting cells (ASCs) in response to polyclonal activators and Toll-like receptor agonists in vitro and the measurement of Ag-specific ASCs by ELISPOT assays. Here we report on studies to optimize the efficiency of this ELISPOT-based assay and to apply this assay to the detection of Plasmodium falciparum (Pf)-specific MBCs in adults living in a malaria endemic area where immunity to Pf is acquired through natural infection. We show that the addition of IL-10 to in vitro cultures of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells increased the efficiency of the assay from 10% to over 90% without increasing the ASC burst size and without any substantial increase in background from naïve B cells or plasma cells (PCs). Using this assay we were able to quantify the frequency of Pf-specific MBCs in peripheral blood of adults living in a malaria endemic area. Thus, this highly efficient assay appears to be well suited to field studies of the generation and maintenance of MBCs where the volumes of blood obtainable are often limiting. Hide abstract
Reduced growth is common in children with sickle cell anemia, but few data exist on associations with long-term clinical course. Our objective was to determine the prevalence of malnutrition at enrollment into a hospital-based cohort and whether poor nutritional status predicted morbidity and mortality within an urban cohort of Tanzanian sickle cell anemia patients. Hide abstract
The diversity in the Plasmodium falciparum genome can be used to explore parasite population dynamics, with practical applications to malaria control. The ability to identify the geographic origin and trace the migratory patterns of parasites with clinically important phenotypes such as drug resistance is particularly relevant. With increasing single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) discovery from ongoing Plasmodium genome sequencing projects, a demand for high SNP and sample throughput genotyping platforms for large-scale population genetic studies is required. Low parasitaemias and multiple clone infections present a number of challenges to genotyping P. falciparum. We addressed some of these issues using a custom 384-SNP Illumina GoldenGate assay on P. falciparum DNA from laboratory clones (long-term cultured adapted parasite clones), short-term cultured parasite isolates and clinical (non-cultured isolates) samples from East and West Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania. Eighty percent of the SNPs (n = 306) produced reliable genotype calls on samples containing as little as 2 ng of total genomic DNA and on whole genome amplified DNA. Analysis of artificial mixtures of laboratory clones demonstrated high genotype calling specificity and moderate sensitivity to call minor frequency alleles. Clear resolution of geographically distinct populations was demonstrated using Principal Components Analysis (PCA), and global patterns of population genetic diversity were consistent with previous reports. These results validate the utility of the platform in performing population genetic studies of P. falciparum. Hide abstract
The Lancet,2011. Relation between falciparum malaria and bacteraemia in Kenyan children: a population-based, case-control study and a longitudinal study
Many investigators have suggested that malaria infection predisposes individuals to bacteraemia. We tested this hypothesis with mendelian randomisation studies of children with the malaria-protective phenotype of sickle-cell trait (HbAS). This study was done in a defined area around Kilifi District Hospital, Kilifi, Kenya. We did a matched case-control study to identify risk factors for invasive bacterial disease, in which cases were children aged 3 months to 13 years who were admitted to hospital with bacteraemia between Sept 16, 1999, and July 31, 2002. We aimed to match two controls, by age, sex, location, and time of recruitment, for every case. We then did a longitudinal case-control study to assess the relation between HbAS and invasive bacterial disease as malaria incidence decreased. Cases were children aged 0-13 years who were admitted to hospital with bacteraemia between Jan 1, 1999, and Dec 31, 2007. Controls were born in the study area between Jan 1, 2006, and June 23, 2009. Finally, we modelled the annual incidence of bacteraemia against the community prevalence of malaria during 9 years with Poisson regression. In the matched case-control study, we recruited 292 cases - we recruited two controls for 236, and one for the remaining 56. Sickle-cell disease, HIV, leucocyte haemozoin pigment, and undernutrition were positively associated with bacteraemia and HbAS was strongly negatively associated with bacteraemia (odds ratio 0·36; 95 CI 0·20-0·65). In the longitudinal case-control study, we assessed data from 1454 cases and 10 749 controls. During the study period, the incidence of admission to hospital with malaria per 1000 child-years decreased from 28·5 to 3·45, with a reduction in protection afforded by HbAS against bacteraemia occurring in parallel (p=0·0008). The incidence of hospital admissions for bacteraemia per 1000 child-years also decreased from 2·59 to 1·45. The bacteraemia incidence rate ratio associated with malaria parasitaemia was 6·69 (95 CI 1·31-34·3) and, at a community parasite prevalence of 29 in 1999, 62 (8·2-91) of bacteraemia cases were attributable to malaria. Malaria infection strongly predisposes individuals to bacteraemia and can account for more than half of all cases of bacteraemia in malaria-endemic areas. Interventions to control malaria will have a major additional benefit by reducing the burden of invasive bacterial disease. Wellcome Trust. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Hide abstract
Malaria transmission may be considered to be homogenous with well-mixed parasite populations (as in the classic Ross/Macdonald models). Marked fine-scale heterogeneity of transmission has been observed in the field (i.e., over a few kilometres), but there are relatively few data on the degree of mixing. Since the Plasmodium falciparum Erythrocyte Membrane Protein 1 (PfEMP1) is highly polymorphic, the host's serological responses may be used to infer exposure to parasite sub-populations. Hide abstract
PLOS ONE, 6 (7), pp. e21013-e21013. | Read more2011. Temporal Association of Acute Hepatitis A and Plasmodium falciparum Malaria in Children
Current vaccine strategies against the asexual blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum are mostly focused on well-studied merozoite antigens that induce immune responses after natural exposure, but have yet to induce robust protection in any clinical trial. Here we compare human-compatible viral-vectored vaccines targeting ten different blood-stage antigens. We show that the full-length P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homologue 5 (PfRH5) is highly susceptible to cross-strain neutralizing vaccine-induced antibodies, out-performing all other antigens delivered by the same vaccine platform. We find that, despite being susceptible to antibody, PfRH5 is unlikely to be under substantial immune selection pressure; there is minimal acquisition of anti-PfRH5 IgG antibodies in malaria-exposed Kenyans. These data challenge the widespread beliefs that any merozoite antigen that is highly susceptible to immune attack would be subject to significant levels of antigenic polymorphism, and that erythrocyte invasion by P. falciparum is a degenerate process involving a series of parallel redundant pathways. Hide abstract
Malaria-specific antibody responses in children often appear to be short-lived but the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are not well understood. In this study, we investigated the relationship between the B-cell activating factor (BAFF) and its receptors expressed on B cells with antibody responses during and after acute malaria in children. Our results demonstrate that BAFF plasma levels increased during acute malarial disease and reflected disease severity. The expression profiles for BAFF receptors on B cells agreed with rapid activation and differentiation of a proportion of B cells to plasma cells. However, BAFF receptor (BAFF-R) expression was reduced on all peripheral blood B cells during acute infection, but those children with the highest level of BAFF-R expression on B cells maintained schizont-specific immunoglobin G (IgG) over a period of 4 months, indicating that dysregulation of BAFF-R expression on B cells may contribute to short-lived antibody responses to malarial antigens in children. In summary, this study suggests a potential role for BAFF during malaria disease, both as a marker for disease severity and in shaping the differentiation pattern of antigen-specific B cells. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved. Hide abstract
Febrile malaria is the most common clinical manifestation of P. falciparum infection, and is often the primary endpoint in clinical trials and epidemiological studies. Subjective and objective fevers are both used to define the endpoint, but have not been carefully compared, and the relative incidence of clinical malaria by active and passive case detection is unknown. Hide abstract
The malaria vaccine candidate, RTS,S/AS01(E), showed promising protective efficacy in a trial of Kenyan and Tanzanian children aged 5 to 17 months. Here we report on the vaccine's safety and tolerability. The experimental design was a Phase 2b, two-centre, double-blind (observer- and participant-blind), randomised (1∶1 ratio) controlled trial. Three doses of study or control (rabies) vaccines were administered intramuscularly at 1 month intervals. Solicited adverse events (AEs) were collected for 7 days after each vaccination. There was surveillance and reporting for unsolicited adverse events for 30 days after each vaccination. Serious adverse events (SAEs) were recorded throughout the study period which lasted for 14 months after dose 1 in Korogwe, Tanzania and an average of 18 months post-dose 1 in Kilifi, Kenya. Blood samples for safety monitoring of haematological, renal and hepatic functions were taken at baseline, 3, 10 and 14 months after dose 1. A total of 894 children received RTS,S/AS01(E) or rabies vaccine between March and August 2007. Overall, children vaccinated with RTS,S/AS01(E) had fewer SAEs (51/447) than children in the control group (88/447). One SAE episode in a RTS,S/AS01(E) recipient and nine episodes among eight rabies vaccine recipients met the criteria for severe malaria. Unsolicited AEs were reported in 78% of subjects in the RTS,S/AS01(E) group and 74% of subjects in the rabies vaccine group. In both vaccine groups, gastroenteritis and pneumonia were the most frequently reported unsolicited AE. Fever was the most frequently observed solicited AE and was recorded after 11% of RTS,S/AS01(E) doses compared to 31% of doses of rabies vaccine. The candidate vaccine RTS,S/AS01(E) showed an acceptable safety profile in children living in a malaria-endemic area in East Africa. More data on the safety of RTS,S/AS01(E) will become available from the Phase 3 programme. Hide abstract
Lancet, 376 (9753), pp. 1626-1627. | Read more2010. Research priorities for malaria elimination.
Signatures of balancing selection operating on specific gene loci in endemic pathogens can identify candidate targets of naturally acquired immunity. In malaria parasites, several leading vaccine candidates convincingly show such signatures when subjected to several tests of neutrality, but the discovery of new targets affected by selection to a similar extent has been slow. A small minority of all genes are under such selection, as indicated by a recent study of 26 Plasmodium falciparum merozoite-stage genes that were not previously prioritized as vaccine candidates, of which only one (locus PF10_0348) showed a strong signature. Therefore, to focus discovery efforts on genes that are polymorphic, we scanned all available shotgun genome sequence data from laboratory lines of P. falciparum and chose six loci with more than five single nucleotide polymorphisms per kilobase (including PF10_0348) for in-depth frequency-based analyses in a Kenyan population (allele sample sizes >50 for each locus) and comparison of Hudson-Kreitman-Aguade (HKA) ratios of population diversity (π) to interspecific divergence (K) from the chimpanzee parasite Plasmodium reichenowi. Three of these (the msp3/6-like genes PF10_0348 and PF10_0355 and the surf(4.1) gene PFD1160w) showed exceptionally high positive values of Tajima's D and Fu and Li's F indices and have the highest HKA ratios, indicating that they are under balancing selection and should be prioritized for studies of their protein products as candidate targets of immunity. Combined with earlier results, there is now strong evidence that high HKA ratio (as well as the frequency-independent ratio of Watterson's /K) is predictive of high values of Tajima's D. Thus, the former offers value for use in genome-wide screening when numbers of genome sequences within a species are low or in combination with Tajima's D as a 2D test on large population genomic samples. Hide abstract
Although Plasmodium falciparum apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) is a leading malaria vaccine candidate, extensive allelic diversity may compromise its vaccine potential. We have previously shown that naturally acquired antibodies to AMA1 were associated with protection from clinical malaria in this Kenyan population. To assess the impact of allelic diversity on naturally acquired immunity, we first sequenced the ectodomain-encoding region of P. falciparum ama1 from subjects with asymptomatic, mild, and severe malaria and measured allele frequency distributions. We then measured antibodies to three allelic AMA1 proteins (AMA1_3D7, AMA1_FVO, and AMA1_HB3) and used competition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) to analyze allele-specific antibodies. Seventy-eight unique haplotypes were identified from 129 alleles sampled. No clustering of allelic haplotypes with disease severity or year of sampling was observed. Differences in nucleotide frequencies in clinical (severe plus mild malaria) versus asymptomatic infections were observed at 16 polymorphic positions. Allele frequency distributions were indicative of balancing selection, with the strongest signature being identified in domain III (Tajima's D = 2.51; P < 0.05). Antibody reactivities to each of the three allelic AMA1 proteins were highly correlated (P < 0.001 for all pairwise comparisons). Although antibodies to conserved epitopes were abundant, 48% of selected children with anti-AMA1 IgG (n = 106) had detectable reactivity to allele-specific epitopes as determined by a competition ELISA. Antibodies to both conserved and allele-specific epitopes in AMA1 may contribute to clinical protection. Hide abstract
Cerebral malaria is the most severe neurological complication of infection with Plasmodium falciparum. With >575,000 cases annually, children in sub-Saharan Africa are the most affected. Surviving patients have an increased risk of neurological and cognitive deficits, behavioral difficulties, and epilepsy making cerebral malaria a leading cause of childhood neurodisability in the region. The pathogenesis of neurocognitive sequelae is poorly understood: coma develops through multiple mechanisms and there may be several mechanisms of brain injury. It is unclear how an intravascular parasite causes such brain injury. Understanding these mechanisms is important to develop appropriate neuroprotective interventions. This article examines possible mechanisms of brain injury in cerebral malaria, relating this to the pathogenesis of the disease, and explores prospects for improved neurocognitive outcome. Hide abstract
Infectious diseases often demonstrate heterogeneity of transmission among host populations. This heterogeneity reduces the efficacy of control strategies, but also implies that focusing control strategies on "hotspots" of transmission could be highly effective. Hide abstract
Although malaria is widely considered a major cause of death in young children born with sickle cell anemia (SCA) in sub-Saharan Africa, this is poorly quantified. We attempted to investigate this question through 4 large case-control analyses involving 7164 children living on the coast of Kenya. SCA was associated with an increased risk of admission to hospital both with nonmalaria diseases in general (odds ratio [OR] = 4.17; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.95-8.92; P < .001) and with invasive bacterial diseases in particular (OR = 8.73; 95% CI, 4.51-16.89; P < .001). We found no evidence for a strongly increased risk of either uncomplicated malaria (OR = 0.43; 95% CI, 0.09-2.10; P = .30) or malaria complicated by a range of well-described clinical features of severity (OR = 0.80; 95% CI, 0.25-2.51; P = .70) overall; nevertheless, mortality was considerably higher among SCA than non-SCA children hospitalized with malaria. Our findings highlight both the central role that malaria plays in the high early mortality seen in African children with SCA and the urgent need for better quantitative data. Meanwhile, our study confirms the importance of providing all children living with SCA in malaria-endemic areas with effective prophylaxis. Hide abstract
The interleukin-2-mediated immune response is critical for host defense against infectious pathogens. Cytokine-inducible SRC homology 2 (SH2) domain protein (CISH), a suppressor of cytokine signaling, controls interleukin-2 signaling. Hide abstract
Malaria parasites have to survive and transmit within a highly selective and ever-changing host environment. Because immunity to malaria is nonsterilizing and builds up slowly through repeated infections, commonly the parasite invades a host that is immunologically and physiologically different from its previous host. During the course of infection, the parasite must also keep pace with changes in host immune responses and red-blood-cell physiology. Here, we describe the "selection landscape" of the most virulent of the human malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum, and the adaptive mechanisms it uses to navigate through that landscape. Taking a cost-benefit view of parasite fitness, we consider the evolutionary outcomes of the most important forces of selection operating on the parasite, namely immunity, host death, drugs, mosquito availability, and coinfection. Given the huge potential for malaria parasite evolution in the context of the recently renewed effort to eradicate malaria, a deeper understanding of P. falciparum adaptation is essential. Hide abstract
Lancet, 376 (9735), pp. 137-139. | Read more2010. Malaria in Africa: progress and prospects in the decade since the Abuja Declaration.
IgG and IgG3 antibodies to merozoite surface protein-2 (MSP-2) of Plasmodium falciparum have been associated with protection from clinical malaria in independent studies. We determined whether this protection was allele-specific by testing whether children who developed clinical malaria lacked IgG/IgG3 antibodies specific to the dominant msp2 parasite genotypes detected during clinical episodes. We analysed pre-existing IgG and IgG1/IgG3 antibodies to antigens representing the major dimorphic types of MSP-2 by ELISA. We used quantitative real-time PCR to determine the dominant msp2 alleles in parasites detected in clinical episodes. Over half (55%, 80/146) of infections contained both allelic types. Single or dominant IC1- and FC27-like alleles were detected in 46% and 42% of infections respectively, and both types were equally dominant in 12%. High levels of IgG/IgG3 antibodies to the FC27-like antigen were not significantly associated with a lower likelihood of clinical episodes caused by parasites bearing FC27-like compared to IC1-like alleles, and vice versa for IgG/IgG3 antibodies to the IC1-like antigen. These findings were supported by competition ELISAs which demonstrated the presence of IgG antibodies to allele-specific epitopes within both antigens. Thus, even for this well-studied antigen, the importance of an allele-specific component of naturally acquired protective immunity to malaria remains to be confirmed. Hide abstract
Approximately 280,000 children are born with sickle cell anemia (SCA) in Africa annually, yet few survive beyond childhood. Falciparum malaria is considered a significant cause of this mortality. We conducted a 5-year prospective surveillance study for malaria parasitemia, clinical malaria, and severe malarial anemia (SMA) in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, between 2004 and 2009. We recorded 10,491 visits to the outpatient clinic among 1808 patients with SCA and 773 visits among 679 patients without SCA. Similarly, we recorded 691 hospital admissions among 497 patients with SCA and 2017 in patients without SCA. Overall, the prevalence of parasitemia was lower in patients with SCA than in patients without SCA both at clinic (0.7% vs 1.6%; OR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.32-0.86; P = .008) and during hospitalization (3.0% vs 5.6%; OR, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.25-0.94; P = .01). Furthermore, patients with SCA had higher rates of malaria during hospitalization than at clinic, the ORs being 4.29 (95% CI, 2.63-7.01; P < .001) for parasitemia, 17.66 (95% CI, 5.92-52.71; P < .001) for clinical malaria, and 21.11 (95% CI, 8.46-52.67; P < .001) for SMA. Although malaria was rare among patients with SCA, parasitemia during hospitalization was associated with both severe anemia and death. Effective treatment for malaria during severe illness episodes and further studies to determine the role chemoprophylaxis are required. Hide abstract
Most of the global neonatal deaths occur in developing nations, mostly in rural homes. Many of the newborns who receive formal medical care are treated in rural district hospitals and other peripheral health centres. However there are no published studies demonstrating trends in neonatal admissions and outcome in rural health care facilities in resource poor regions. Such information is critical in planning public health interventions. In this study we therefore aimed at describing the pattern of neonatal admissions to a Kenyan rural district hospital and their outcome over a 19 year period, examining clinical indicators of inpatient neonatal mortality and also trends in utilization of a rural hospital for deliveries. Hide abstract
PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 4 (6), pp. e619. | Read more2010. Clinical research in resource-limited settings: enhancing research capacity and working together to make trials less complicated.
Malaria remains a significant burden in sub-Saharan Africa. However, data on burden of congenital and neonatal malaria is scarce and contradictory, with some recent studies reporting a high burden. Using prospectively collected data on neonatal admissions to a rural district hospital in a region of stable malaria endemicity in Kenya, the prevalence of congenital and neonatal malaria was described. Hide abstract
PloS one, 5 (12), Read abstract2010. Defining clinical malaria: the specificity and incidence of endpoints from active and passive surveillance of children in rural Kenya.
Febrile malaria is the most common clinical manifestation of P. falciparum infection, and is often the primary endpoint in clinical trials and epidemiological studies. Subjective and objective fevers are both used to define the endpoint, but have not been carefully compared, and the relative incidence of clinical malaria by active and passive case detection is unknown. We analyzed data from cohorts under active and passive surveillance, including 19,462 presentations with fever and 5,551 blood tests for asymptomatic parasitaemia. A logistic regression model was used to calculate Malaria Attributable Fractions (MAFs) for various case definitions. Incidences of febrile malaria by active and passive surveillance were compared in a subset of children matched for age and location. Active surveillance identified three times the incidence of clinical malaria as passive surveillance in a subset of children matched for age and location. Objective fever (temperature≥37.5°C) gave consistently higher MAFs than case definitions based on subjective fever. The endpoints from active and passive surveillance have high specificity, but the incidence of endpoints is lower on passive surveillance. Subjective fever had low specificity and should not be used in primary endpoint. Passive surveillance will reduce the power of clinical trials but may cost-effectively deliver acceptable sensitivity in studies of large populations. Hide abstract
Control measures which reduce individual exposure to malaria are expected to reduce disease, but also to eventually reduce immunity. Reassuringly, long term data following community wide ITN distribution show sustained benefits at a population level. However, the more common practice in Sub-Saharan Africa is to target ITN distribution on young children. There are few data on the long term outcomes of this practice. Hide abstract
Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) is a potentially important family of immune targets, which play a central role in the host-parasite interaction by binding to various host molecules. They are encoded by a diverse family of genes called var, of which there are approximately 60 copies in each parasite genome. In sub-Saharan Africa, although P. falciparum infection occurs throughout life, severe malarial disease tends to occur only in childhood. This could potentially be explained if (i) PfEMP1 variants differ in their capacity to support pathogenesis of severe malaria and (ii) this capacity is linked to the likelihood of each molecule being recognized and cleared by naturally acquired antibodies. Here, in a study of 217 Kenyan children with malaria, we show that expression of a group of var genes "cys2," containing a distinct pattern of cysteine residues, is associated with low host immunity. Expression of cys2 genes was associated with parasites from young children, those with severe malaria, and those with a poorly developed antibody response to parasite-infected erythrocyte surface antigens. Cys-2 var genes form a minor component of all genomic var repertoires analyzed to date. Therefore, the results are compatible with the hypothesis that the genomic var gene repertoire is organized such that PfEMP1 molecules that confer the most virulence to the parasite tend also to be those that are most susceptible to the development of host immunity. This may help the parasite to adapt effectively to the development of host antibodies through modification of the host-parasite relationship. Hide abstract
Whereas most nontyphoidal Salmonella (NTS) are associated with gastroenteritis, there has been a dramatic increase in reports of NTS-associated invasive disease in sub-Saharan Africa. Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium isolates are responsible for a significant proportion of the reported invasive NTS in this region. Multilocus sequence analysis of invasive S. Typhimurium from Malawi and Kenya identified a dominant type, designated ST313, which currently is rarely reported outside of Africa. Whole-genome sequencing of a multiple drug resistant (MDR) ST313 NTS isolate, D23580, identified a distinct prophage repertoire and a composite genetic element encoding MDR genes located on a virulence-associated plasmid. Further, there was evidence of genome degradation, including pseudogene formation and chromosomal deletions, when compared with other S. Typhimurium genome sequences. Some of this genome degradation involved genes previously implicated in virulence of S. Typhimurium or genes for which the orthologs in S. Typhi are either pseudogenes or are absent. Genome analysis of other epidemic ST313 isolates from Malawi and Kenya provided evidence for microevolution and clonal replacement in the field. Hide abstract
We have analyzed the in vitro chemosensitivity profiles of 115 Kenyan isolates for chloroquine (CQ), piperaquine, lumefantrine (LM), and dihydroartemisinin in association with polymorphisms in pfcrt at codon 76 and pfmdr1 at codon 86, as well as with variations of the copy number of pfmdr1. The median drug concentrations that inhibit 50% of parasite growth (IC(50)s) were 41 nM (interquartile range [IQR], 18 to 73 nM), 50 nM (IQR, 29 to 96 nM), 32 nM (IQR, 17 to 46 nM), and 2 nM (IQR, 1 to 3 nM) for CQ, LM, piperaquine, and dihydroartemisinin, respectively. The activity of CQ correlated inversely with that of LM (r(2) = -0.26; P = 0.02). Interestingly, parasites for which LM IC(50)s were higher were wild type for pfcrt-76 and pfmdr1-86. All isolates had one pfmdr1 copy. Thus, the decrease in LM activity is associated with the selection of wild-type pfcrt-76 and pfmdr1-86 parasites, a feature that accounts for the inverse relationship between CQ and LM. Therefore, the use of LM-artemether is likely to lead to the selection of more CQ-susceptible parasites. Hide abstract
A major handicap in developing a malaria vaccine is the difficulty in pinpointing the immune responses that protect against malaria. The protective efficacy of natural or vaccine-induced immune responses against malaria is normally assessed by relating the level of the responses in an individual at the beginning of a follow-up period and the individual's experience of malaria infection or disease during the follow-up. This approach has identified a number of important responses against malaria, but their protective efficacies vary considerably between studies. Hide abstract
In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 90% of children with sickle-cell anaemia die before the diagnosis can be made. The causes of death are poorly documented, but bacterial sepsis is probably important. We examined the risk of invasive bacterial diseases in children with sickle-cell anaemia. Hide abstract
Mechanisms for differential regulation of gene expression may underlie much of the phenotypic variation and adaptability of malaria parasites. Here we describe transcriptional variation among culture-adapted field isolates of Plasmodium falciparum, the species responsible for most malarial disease. It was found that genes coding for parasite protein export into the red cell cytosol and onto its surface, and genes coding for sexual stage proteins involved in parasite transmission are up-regulated in field isolates compared with long-term laboratory isolates. Much of this variability was associated with the loss of small or large chromosomal segments, or other forms of gene copy number variation that are prevalent in the P. falciparum genome (copy number variants, CNVs). Expression levels of genes inside these segments were correlated to that of genes outside and adjacent to the segment boundaries, and this association declined with distance from the CNV boundary. This observation could not be explained by copy number variation in these adjacent genes. This suggests a local-acting regulatory role for CNVs in transcription of neighboring genes and helps explain the chromosomal clustering that we observed here. Transcriptional co-regulation of physical clusters of adaptive genes may provide a way for the parasite to readily adapt to its highly heterogeneous and strongly selective environment. Hide abstract
Whether the number of concurrent clones in asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum infections reflects the degree of host protection was investigated in children living in areas with different levels of transmission on the coast of Kenya. The number of concurrent clones was determined on the basis of polymorphism in msp2, which encodes the vaccine candidate antigen merozoite surface protein 2. In a low-transmission area, most children had monoclonal infections, and diversity did not predict a risk of clinical malaria. In an area of moderate transmission, asymptomatic infections with 2 clones were, compared with 1 clone, associated with an increased risk of subsequent malaria. In a comparative assessment in a high-transmission area in Tanzania, multiclonal infections conferred a reduced risk. The different nonlinear associations between the number of clones and malaria morbidity suggest that levels of tolerance to multiclonal infections are transmission dependent as a result of cumulative exposure to antigenically diverse P. falciparum infections. Hide abstract
Globally, sickle cell disease (SCD) has its highest prevalence and worst prognosis in sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, relatively few studies describe the clinical characteristics of children with SCD in this region. We conducted a prospective observational study of children with SCD attending a specialist out-patient clinic in Kilifi, Kenya. A total of 124 children (median age 6.3 years) were included in the study. Splenomegaly was present in 41 (33%) subjects and hepatomegaly in 25 (20%), both being common in all age groups. A positive malaria slide was found at 6% of clinic visits. The mean haemoglobin concentration was 73 g/l, compared to 107 g/l in non-SCD controls (P < 0.001). Liver function tests were elevated; plasma bilirubin concentrations were 46 micromol/l and aspartate aminotransferase was 124 iu/l. Forty-eight (39%) children were admitted to hospital and two died. Children with SCD in Kilifi have a similar degree of anaemia and liver function derangement to patients living in developed countries, but splenomegaly persists into later childhood. The prevalence of malaria was lower than expected given the prevalence in the local community. This study provides valuable data regarding the clinical characteristics of children living with SCD in a rural setting in East Africa. Hide abstract
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, malnutrition, and invasive bacterial infection (IBI) are reported among children with severe malaria. However, it is unclear whether their cooccurrence with falciparum parasitization and severe disease happens by chance or by association among children in areas where malaria is endemic. Hide abstract
To date, it has been widely assumed that malaria is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in children with sickle cell disease (SCD) in malaria-endemic countries, and as a result, malarial prophylaxis is commonly recommended. Nevertheless, few data are available that support this practice. Hide abstract
The prevalence of CD36 deficiency in East Asian and African populations suggests that the causal variants are under selection by severe malaria. Previous analysis of data from the International HapMap Project indicated that a CD36 haplotype bearing a nonsense mutation (T1264G; rs3211938) had undergone recent positive selection in the Yoruba of Nigeria. To investigate the global distribution of this putative selection event, we genotyped T1264G in 3420 individuals from 66 populations. We confirmed the high frequency of 1264G in the Yoruba (26%). However, the 1264G allele is less common in other African populations and absent from all non-African populations without recent African admixture. Using long-range linkage disequilibrium, we studied two West African groups in depth. Evidence for recent positive selection at the locus was demonstrable in the Yoruba, although not in Gambians. We screened 70 variants from across CD36 for an association with severe malaria phenotypes, employing a case-control study of 1350 subjects and a family study of 1288 parent-offspring trios. No marker was significantly associated with severe malaria. We focused on T1264G, genotyping 10,922 samples from four African populations. The nonsense allele was not associated with severe malaria (pooled allelic odds ratio 1.0; 95% confidence interval 0.89-1.12; P = 0.98). These results suggest a range of possible explanations including the existence of alternative selection pressures on CD36, co-evolution between host and parasite or confounding caused by allelic heterogeneity of CD36 deficiency. Hide abstract
The evasion of host immune response by the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum has been linked to expression of a range of variable antigens on the infected erythrocyte surface. Several genes are potentially involved in this process with the var, rif and stevor multigene families being the most likely candidates and coding for rapidly evolving proteins. The high sequence diversity of proteins encoded by these gene families may have evolved as an immune evasion strategy that enables the parasite to establish long lasting chronic infections. Previous findings have shown that the hypervariable region (HVR) of STEVOR has significant sequence diversity both within as well as across different P. falciparum lines. However, these studies did not address whether or not there are ancestral stevor that can be found in different parasites. Hide abstract
Vaccination against Plasmodium falciparum malaria could reduce the worldwide burden of this disease, and decrease its high mortality in children. Replication-defective recombinant adenovirus vectors carrying P. falciparum epitopes may be useful as part of a vaccine that raises cellular immunity to the pre-erythrocytic stage of malaria infection. However, existing immunity to the adenovirus vector results in antibody-mediated neutralization of the vaccine vector, and reduced vaccine immunogenicity. Our aim was to examine a population of children who are at risk from P. falciparum malaria for neutralizing immunity to replication-deficient recombinant chimpanzee adenovirus 63 vector (AdC63), compared to human adenovirus 5 vector (AdHu5). We measured 50% and 90% vector neutralization titers in 200 individual sera, taken from a cohort of children from Kenya, using a secreted alkaline phosphatase neutralization assay. We found that 23% of the children (aged 1-6 years) had high-titer neutralizing antibodies to AdHu5, and 4% had high-titer neutralizing antibodies to AdC63. Immunity to both vectors was age-dependent. Low-level neutralization of AdC63 was significantly less frequent than AdHu5 neutralization at the 90% neutralization level. We conclude that AdC63 may be a useful vector as part of a prime-boost malaria vaccine in children. Hide abstract
We report a genome-wide association (GWA) study of severe malaria in The Gambia. The initial GWA scan included 2,500 children genotyped on the Affymetrix 500K GeneChip, and a replication study included 3,400 children. We used this to examine the performance of GWA methods in Africa. We found considerable population stratification, and also that signals of association at known malaria resistance loci were greatly attenuated owing to weak linkage disequilibrium (LD). To investigate possible solutions to the problem of low LD, we focused on the HbS locus, sequencing this region of the genome in 62 Gambian individuals and then using these data to conduct multipoint imputation in the GWA samples. This increased the signal of association, from P = 4 × 10(-7) to P = 4 × 10(-14), with the peak of the signal located precisely at the HbS causal variant. Our findings provide proof of principle that fine-resolution multipoint imputation, based on population-specific sequencing data, can substantially boost authentic GWA signals and enable fine mapping of causal variants in African populations. Hide abstract
The spread of resistance to chloroquine (CQ) led to its withdrawal from use in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s. In Malawi, this withdrawal was followed by a rapid reduction in the frequency of resistance to the point where the drug is now considered to be effective once again, just nine years after its withdrawal. In this report, the polymorphisms of markers associated with CQ-resistance against Plasmodium falciparum isolates from coastal Kenya (Kilifi) were investigated, from 1993, prior to the withdrawal of CQ, to 2006, seven years after its withdrawal. Changes to those that occurred in the dihydrofolate reductase gene (dhfr) that confers resistance to the replacement drug, pyrimethamine/sulphadoxine were also compared. Hide abstract
In studies of immunity to malaria, the absence of febrile malaria is commonly considered evidence of "protection." However, apparent "protection" may be due to a lack of exposure to infective mosquito bites or due to immunity. We studied a cohort that was given curative antimalarials before monitoring began and documented newly acquired asymptomatic parasitemia and febrile malaria episodes during 3 months of surveillance. With increasing age, there was a shift away from febrile malaria to acquiring asymptomatic parasitemia, with no change in the overall incidence of infection. Antibodies to the infected red cell surface were associated with acquiring asymptomatic infection rather than febrile malaria or remaining uninfected. Bed net use was associated with remaining uninfected rather than acquiring asymptomatic infection or febrile malaria. These observations suggest that most uninfected children were unexposed rather than "immune." Had they been immune, we would have expected the proportion of uninfected children to rise with age and that the uninfected children would have been distinguished from children with febrile malaria by the protective antibody response. We show that removing the less exposed children from conventional analyses clarifies the effects of immunity, transmission intensity, bed nets, and age. Observational studies and vaccine trials will have increased power if they differentiate between unexposed and immune children. Hide abstract
High cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFv) and low haemoglobin oxygen saturation (SpO(2)) predict neurological complications in sickle cell anaemia (SCA) but any association is unclear. In a cross-sectional study of 105 Kenyan children, mean CBFv was 120 +/- 34.9 cm/s; 3 had conditional CBFv (170-199 cm/s) but none had abnormal CBFv (>200 cm/s). After adjustment for age and haematocrit, CBFv > or =150 cm/s was predicted by SpO(2) < or = 95% and history of fever. Four years later, 10 children were lost to follow-up, none had suffered neurological events and 11/95 (12%) had died, predicted by history of fever but not low SpO(2). Natural history of SCA in Africa may be different from North America and Europe. Hide abstract
The tumor necrosis factor gene (TNF) and lymphotoxin-alpha gene (LTA) have long attracted attention as candidate genes for susceptibility traits for malaria, and several of their polymorphisms have been found to be associated with severe malaria (SM) phenotypes. In a large study involving >10,000 individuals and encompassing 3 African populations, we found evidence to support the reported associations between the TNF -238 polymorphism and SM in The Gambia. However, no TNF/LTA polymorphisms were found to be associated with SM in cohorts in Kenya and Malawi. It has been suggested that the causal polymorphisms regulating the TNF and LTA responses may be located some distance from the genes. Therefore, more-detailed mapping of variants across TNF/LTA genes and their flanking regions in the Gambian and allied populations may need to be undertaken to find any causal polymorphisms. Hide abstract
Genetic heterozygosity is increasingly being shown to be a key predictor of fitness in natural populations, both through inbreeding depression, inbred individuals having low heterozygosity, and also through chance linkage between a marker and a gene under balancing selection. One important component of fitness that is often highlighted is resistance to parasites and other pathogens. However, the significance of equivalent loci in human populations remains unclear. Consequently, we performed a case-control study of fatal invasive bacterial disease in Kenyan children using a genome-wide screen with microsatellite markers. Hide abstract
Background: Control measures which reduce individual exposure to malaria are expected to reduce disease, but also to eventually reduce immunity. Reassuringly, long term data following community wide ITN distribution show sustained benefits at a population level. However, the more common practice in Sub-Saharan Africa is to target ITN distribution on young children. There are few data on the long term outcomes of this practice.Methodology/Principal Findings: Episodes of febrile malaria were identified by active surveillance in 383 children over 18 months of follow up. In order to compare the short and long term outcomes of ITN use, we examined interactions between ITN use and age (12-42 months of age versus 42-80 months) in determining the risk of febrile malaria. ITN use and older age protected against the first or only episode of malaria (Hazard Ratio [HR] =0.33, 95%CI 0.17-0.65 and HR =0.30, 95%CI0.17-0.51, respectively). The interaction term between ITN use and older age was HR =2.91, 95%CI 1.02-8.3, p=0.045, indicating that ITNs did not protect older children. When multiple episodes were included in analysis, ITN use and older age were again protective against malaria episodes (Incident Rate Ratio [IRR] =0.43 95%CI 0.27-0.7) and IRR = 0.23, 95%CI 0.13-0.42, respectively) and the interaction term indicated that ITNs did not protect older children (IRR =2.71, 95%CI 1.3-5.7, p=0.008). Conclusions/Significance: These data on age interactions with ITN use suggest that larger scale studies on the long term individual outcomes should be undertaken if the policy of targeted ITN use for vulnerable groups is to continue. © 2009 Bejon et al. Hide abstract
Interferon Regulatory Factor 1 (IRF-1) is a member of the IRF family of transcription factors, which have key and diverse roles in the gene-regulatory networks of the immune system. IRF-1 has been described as a critical mediator of IFN-gamma signalling and as the major player in driving TH1 type responses. It is therefore likely to be crucial in both innate and adaptive responses against intracellular pathogens such as Plasmodium falciparum. Polymorphisms at the human IRF1 locus have been previously found to be associated with the ability to control P. falciparum infection in populations naturally exposed to malaria. In order to test whether genetic variation at the IRF1 locus also affects the risk of developing severe malaria, we performed a family-based test of association for 18 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) across the gene in three African populations, using genotype data from 961 trios consisting of one affected child and his/her two parents (555 from The Gambia, 204 from Kenya and 202 from Malawi). No significant association with severe malaria or severe malaria subphenotypes (cerebral malaria and severe malaria anaemia) was observed for any of the SNPs/haplotypes tested in any of the study populations. Our results offer no evidence that the molecular pathways regulated by the transcription factor IRF-1 are involved in the immune-based pathogenesis of severe malaria. Hide abstract
Background: Endemic human pathogens are subject to strong immune selection, and interrogation of pathogen genome variation for signatures of balancing selection can identify important target antigens. Several major antigen genes in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum have shown such signatures in polymorphism-versus-divergence indices (comparing with the chimpanzee parasite P. reichenowi), and in allele frequency based indices. Methodology/Principal Findings: To compare methods for prospective identification of genes under balancing selection, 26 additional genes known or predicted to encode surface-exposed proteins of the invasive blood stage merozoite were first sequenced from a panel of 14 independent P. falciparum cultured lines and P. reichenowi. Six genes at the positive extremes of one or both of the Hudson-Kreitman-Aguade (HKA) and McDonald-Kreitman (MK) indices were identified. Allele frequency based analysis was then performed on a Gambian P. falciparum population sample for these six genes and three others as controls. Tajima's D (TjD) index was most highly positive for the msp3/6-like PF10_0348 (TjD = 1.96) as well as the positive control ama1 antigen gene (TjD = 1.22). Across the genes there was a strong correlation between population TjD values and the relative HKA indices (whether derived from the population or the panel of cultured laboratory isolates), but no correlation with the MK indices. Conclusions/Significance: Although few individual parasite genes show significant evidence of balancing selection, analysis of population genomic and comparative sequence data with the HKA and TjD indices should discriminate those that do, and thereby identify likely targets of immunity. © 2009 Tetteh et al. Hide abstract
Development and optimization of first generation malaria vaccine candidates has been facilitated by the existence of a well-established Plasmodium falciparum clinical challenge model in which infectious sporozoites are administered to human subjects via mosquito bite. While ideal for testing pre-erythrocytic stage vaccines, some researchers believe that the sporozoite challenge model is less appropriate for testing blood stage vaccines. Here we report a consultation, co-sponsored by PATH MVI, USAID, EMVI and WHO, where scientists from all institutions globally that have conducted such clinical challenges in recent years and representatives from regulatory agencies and funding agencies met to discuss clinical malaria challenge models. Participants discussed strengthening and harmonizing the sporozoite challenge model and considered the pros and cons of further developing a blood stage challenge possibly better suited for evaluating the efficacy of blood stage vaccines. This report summarizes major findings and recommendations, including an update on the Plasmodium vivax clinical challenge model, the prospects for performing experimental challenge trials in malaria endemic countries and an update on clinical safety data. While the focus of the meeting was on the optimization of clinical challenge models for evaluation of blood stage candidate malaria vaccines, many of the considerations are relevant for the application of challenge trials to other purposes. Hide abstract
Primary care facilities are increasingly becoming the focal point for distribution of malaria intervention strategies, but physical access to these facilities may limit the extent to which communities can be reached. To investigate the impact of travel time to primary care on the incidence of hospitalized malaria episodes in a rural district in Kenya. Hide abstract
Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a pressing global health problem. A previous study of the malaria vaccine RTS,S (which targets the circumsporozoite protein), given with an adjuvant system (AS02A), showed a 30% rate of protection against clinical malaria in children 1 to 4 years of age. We evaluated the efficacy of RTS,S given with a more immunogenic adjuvant system (AS01E) in children 5 to 17 months of age, a target population for vaccine licensure. Hide abstract
Functional studies have demonstrated an interaction between the stimulatory G protein alpha subunit (G-alpha-s) and the malaria parasite at a cellular level. Obstruction of signal transduction via the erythrocyte G-alpha-s subunit reduced invasion by Plasmodium falciparum parasites. We sought to determine whether this signal pathway had an impact at the disease level by testing polymorphisms in the gene encoding G-alpha-s (GNAS) for association with severe malaria in a large multi-centre study encompassing family and case-control studies from The Gambia, Kenya and Malawi, and a case-control study from Ghana. We gained power to detect association using meta-analysis across the seven studies, with an overall sample size approximating 4,000 cases and 4,000 controls. Out of 12 SNPs investigated in the 19 kb GNAS region, four presented signals of association (P < 0.05) with severe malaria. The strongest single-locus association demonstrated an odds ratio of 1.13 (1.05-1.21), P = 0.001. Three of the loci presenting significant associations were clustered at the 5-prime end of the GNAS gene. Accordingly, haplotypes constructed from these loci demonstrated significant associations with severe malaria [OR = 0.88 (0.81-0.96), P = 0.005 and OR = 1.12 (1.03-1.20), P = 0.005]. The evidence presented here indicates that the influence of G-alpha-s on erythrocyte invasion efficacy may, indeed, alter individual susceptibility to disease. Hide abstract
As efforts to control malaria are expanded across the world, understanding the role of transmission intensity in determining the burden of clinical malaria is crucial to the prediction and measurement of the effectiveness of interventions to reduce transmission. Furthermore, studies comparing several endemic sites led to speculation that as transmission decreases morbidity and mortality caused by severe malaria might increase. We aimed to assess the epidemiological characteristics of malaria in Kilifi, Kenya, during a period of decreasing transmission intensity. Hide abstract
Antibodies that inhibit the growth of blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum may play an important role in acquired and vaccine-induced immunity in humans. However, the acquisition and activity of these antibodies is not well understood. Hide abstract
Following infection with Plasmodium falciparum malaria, children in endemic areas develop antibodies specific to antigens on the parasite-infected red cell surface of the infecting isolate, antibodies associated with protection against subsequent infection with that isolate. In some circumstances induction of antibodies to heterologous parasite isolates also occurs and this has been suggested as evidence for cross-reactivity of responses against the erythrocyte surface. The role of these relatively cross-reactive antibodies in protection from clinical malaria is currently unknown. We studied the incidence of clinical malaria amongst children living on the coast of Kenya through one high transmission season. By categorising individuals according to their pre-season parasite status and antibody response to the surface of erythrocytes infected with four parasite isolates we were able to identify a group of children, those who failed to make a concomitant antibody response in the presence of an asymptomatic parasitaemia, at increased susceptibility to clinical malaria in the subsequent 6 months. The fact that this susceptible group was identified regardless of the parasite isolate tested infers a cross-reactive or conserved target is present on the surface of infected erythrocytes. Identification of this target will significantly aid understanding of naturally acquired immunity to clinical malaria amongst children in endemic areas. Hide abstract
The ethics of research continue to attract considerable debate, particularly when that research is sponsored by partners from the North and carried out in the South. Ethical research should contribute to social value in the country where research is being carried out, but there is significant debate around how this might be achieved and who is responsible. The literature suggests that researchers might employ two inter-related strategies to maximise social value: collaborative partnerships with policy makers and communities from the outset of research, and dissemination of research results to participants, policy makers and implementers once the research is over. These areas have received relatively little empirical attention. In this study, we carried out 40 in-depth interviews to explore the role of collaborative partnerships in health research priority setting, and the way in which research findings are disseminated to aid policy making and implementation in Kenya. Interviewees included policy makers, researchers, policy implementers and representatives of organisations funding health reforms in Kenya. Two policy issues were drawn upon as tracers wherever possible: (1) the introduction of Artemesinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs), an anti-malarial treatment policy; and (2) Haemophilus influenzae (Hib) vaccine for the prevention of pneumococcal diseases among children. The findings point to significant gaps in the 'research to policy to practice' pathway, particularly for national research institutions with a focus on clinical/biomedical research. These gaps reflect poorly effective partnerships among stakeholders and limit the potential social value of much research. While more investment is needed to establish strong structures for promoting and directing collaboration and partnership, how to target this investment is not entirely clear, especially in the context of the considerable power of the global health agenda and the research financing tied to it. Hide abstract
Antibodies targeting variant antigens expressed on the surface of Plasmodium falciparum infected erythrocytes have been associated with protection from clinical malaria. The precise target for these antibodies is unknown. The best characterized and most likely target is the erythrocyte surface-expressed variant protein family Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1). Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 79 (2), pp. 185-191. Read abstract2008. Relationship between exposure, clinical malaria, and age in an area of changing transmission intensity.
The relationship between malaria transmission intensity and clinical disease is important for predicting the outcome of control measures that reduce transmission. Comparisons of hospital data between areas of differing transmission intensity suggest that the mean age of hospitalized clinical malaria is higher under relatively lower transmission, but the total number of episodes is similar until transmission drops below a threshold, where the risks of hospitalized malaria decline. These observations have rarely been examined longitudinally in a single community where transmission declines over time. We reconstructed 16 years (1991-2006) of pediatric hospital surveillance data and infection prevalence surveys from a circumscribed geographic area on the Kenyan coast. The incidence of clinical malaria remained high, despite sustained reductions in exposure to infection. However, the age group experiencing the clinical attacks of malaria increased steadily as exposure declined and may precede changes in the number of episodes in an area with declining transmission. Hide abstract
Malaria is one of the main health problems facing developing countries today. At present, preventative and treatment strategies are continuously hampered by the issues of the ever-emerging parasite resistance to newly introduced drugs, considerable costs and logistical problems. The main hope for changing this situation would be the development of effective malaria vaccines. An important part of this process is understanding the mechanisms of naturally acquired immunity to malaria. This review will highlight key aspects of immunity to malaria, about which surprisingly little is known and which will prove critical in the search for effective malaria vaccines. Hide abstract
The human parasite Plasmodium falciparum has the potential to express a vast repertoire of variant proteins on the surface of the infected red blood cell (iRBC). Variation in the expression pattern of these proteins is linked to antigenic variation and thereby evasion of host antibody-mediated immunity. The genes in the stevor multigene family code for small variant antigens that are expressed in blood-stage parasites where they can be detected in membranous structures called Maurer's clefts (MC). Some studies have indicated that STEVOR protein may also be trafficked to the iRBC membrane. To address the location of STEVOR protein in more detail, we have analyzed expression in several cultured parasite lines and in parasites obtained directly from patients. We detected STEVOR expression in a higher proportion of parasites recently isolated from patients than in cultured parasite lines and show that STEVOR is trafficked in schizont-stage parasites from the MC to the RBC cytosol and the iRBC membrane. Furthermore, STEVOR protein is also detected at the apical end of merozoites. Importantly, we show that culture-adapted parasites do not require STEVOR for survival. These findings provide new insights into the role of the stevor multigene family during both the schizont and merozoite stages of the parasite and highlight the importance of studying freshly isolated parasites, rather than parasite lines maintained in culture, when investigating potential mediators of host-parasite interactions. Hide abstract
Evidence from autopsy and in vitro binding studies suggests that adhesion of erythrocytes infected with Plasmodium falciparum to the human host intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 receptor is important in the pathogenesis of severe malaria. Previous association studies between polymorphisms in the ICAM1 gene and susceptibility to severe malarial phenotypes have been inconclusive and often contradictory. We performed genetic association studies with 15 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) around the ICAM1 locus. All SNPs were screened in a family study of 1071 trios from The Gambia, Malawi and Kenya. Two key non-synonymous SNPs with previously reported associations, rs5491 (K56M or 'ICAM-1(Kilifi)') and rs5498 (K469E), were tested in an additional 708 Gambian trios and a case-control study of 4058 individuals. None of the polymorphisms were associated with severe malaria phenotypes. Pooled results across our studies for ICAM-1(Kilifi) were, in severe malaria, odds ratio (OR) 1.02, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.96-1.09, P=0.54, and cerebral malaria OR 1.07, CI 0.97-1.17, P=0.17. We assess the available epidemiological, population genetic and functional evidence that links ICAM-1(Kilifi) to severe malaria susceptibility. Hide abstract
Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) is a potentially important family of immune targets, encoded by an extremely diverse gene family called var. Understanding of the genetic organization of var genes is hampered by sequence mosaicism that results from a long history of non-homologous recombination. Here we have used software designed to analyse social networks to visualize the relationships between large collections of short var sequences tags sampled from clinical parasite isolates. In this approach, two sequences are connected if they share one or more highly polymorphic sequence blocks. The results show that the majority of analysed sequences including several var-like sequences from the chimpanzee parasite Plasmodium reichenowi can be either directly or indirectly linked together in a single unbroken network. However, the network is highly structured and contains putative subgroups of recombining sequences. The major subgroup contains the previously described group A var genes, previously proposed to be genetically distinct. Another subgroup contains sequences found to be associated with rosetting, a parasite virulence phenotype. The mosaic structure of the sequences and their division into subgroups may reflect the conflicting problems of maximizing antigenic diversity and minimizing epitope sharing between variants while maintaining their host cell binding functions. Hide abstract
It may be assumed that patterns of clinical malaria in children of similar age under the same level of exposure would follow a Poisson distribution with no over-dispersion. Longitudinal studies that have been conducted over many years suggest that some children may experience more episodes of clinical malaria than would be expected. The aim of this study was to identify this group of children and investigate possible causes for this increased susceptibility. Hide abstract
Individuals living in areas where malaria is endemic are repeatedly exposed to many different malaria parasite antigens. Studies on naturally acquired antibody-mediated immunity to clinical malaria have largely focused on the presence of responses to individual antigens and their associations with decreased morbidity. We hypothesized that the breadth (number of important targets to which antibodies were made) and magnitude (antibody level measured in a random serum sample) of the antibody response were important predictors of protection from clinical malaria. We analyzed naturally acquired antibodies to five leading Plasmodium falciparum merozoite-stage vaccine candidate antigens, and schizont extract, in Kenyan children monitored for uncomplicated malaria for 6 months (n = 119). Serum antibody levels to apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) and merozoite surface protein antigens (MSP-1 block 2, MSP-2, and MSP-3) were inversely related to the probability of developing malaria, but levels to MSP-1(19) and erythrocyte binding antigen (EBA-175) were not. The risk of malaria was also inversely associated with increasing breadth of antibody specificities, with none of the children who simultaneously had high antibody levels to five or more antigens experiencing a clinical episode (17/119; 15%; P = 0.0006). Particular combinations of antibodies (AMA1, MSP-2, and MSP-3) were more strongly predictive of protection than others. The results were validated in a larger, separate case-control study whose end point was malaria severe enough to warrant hospital admission (n = 387). These findings suggest that under natural exposure, immunity to malaria may result from high titers antibodies to multiple antigenic targets and support the idea of testing combination blood-stage vaccines optimized to induce similar antibody profiles. Hide abstract
We have recently described 95 predicted alpha-helical coiled-coil peptides derived from putative Plasmodium falciparum erythrocytic stage proteins. Seventy peptides recognized with the highest level of prevalence by sera from three endemic areas were selected for further studies. In this study, we sequentially examined antibody responses to these synthetic peptides in two cohorts of children at risk of clinical malaria in Kilifi district in coastal Kenya, in order to characterize the level of peptide recognition by age, and the role of anti-peptide antibodies in protection from clinical malaria. Antibody levels from 268 children in the first cohort (Chonyi) were assayed against 70 peptides. Thirty-nine peptides were selected for further study in a second cohort (Junju). The rationale for the second cohort was to confirm those peptides identified as protective in the first cohort. The Junju cohort comprised of children aged 1-6 years old (inclusive). Children were actively followed up to identify episodes of febrile malaria in both cohorts. Of the 70 peptides examined, 32 showed significantly (p<0.05) increased antibody recognition in older children and 40 showed significantly increased antibody recognition in parasitaemic children. Ten peptides were associated with a significantly reduced odds ratio (OR) for an episode of clinical malaria in the first cohort of children and two of these peptides (LR146 and AS202.11) were associated with a significantly reduced OR in both cohorts. LR146 is derived from hypothetical protein PFB0145c in PlasmoDB. Previous work has identified this protein as a target of antibodies effective in antibody dependent cellular inhibition (ADCI). The current study substantiates further the potential of protein PFB0145c and also identifies protein PF11_0424 as another likely target of protective antibodies against P. falciparum malaria. Hide abstract
JOURNAL OF INFECTION, 56 (4), pp. 299-299. | Read more2008. Plasmodium falciparum Icam-1-based cytoadherence-related signalling in endothelical cells
There is growing epidemiological and molecular evidence that ABO blood group affects host susceptibility to severe Plasmodium falciparum infection. The high frequency of common ABO alleles means that even modest differences in susceptibility could have a significant impact on the health of people living in malaria endemic regions. We performed an association study, the first to utilize key molecular genetic variation underlying the ABO system, genotyping >9000 individuals across three African populations. Using population- and family-based tests, we demonstrated that alleles producing functional ABO enzymes are associated with greater risk of severe malaria phenotypes (particularly malarial anemia) in comparison with the frameshift deletion underlying blood group O: case-control allelic odds ratio (OR), 1.2; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.09-1.32; P = 0.0003; family-studies allelic OR, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.08-1.32; P = 0.001; pooled across all studies allelic OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.11-1.26; P = 2 x 10(-7). We found suggestive evidence of a parent-of-origin effect at the ABO locus by analyzing the family trios. Non-O haplotypes inherited from mothers, but not fathers, are significantly associated with severe malaria (likelihood ratio test of Weinberg, P = 0.046). Finally, we used HapMap data to demonstrate a region of low F(ST) (-0.001) between the three main HapMap population groups across the ABO locus, an outlier in the empirical distribution of F(ST) across chromosome 9 (approximately 99.5-99.9th centile). This low F(ST) region may be a signal of long-standing balancing selection at the ABO locus, caused by multiple infectious pathogens including P. falciparum. Hide abstract
Helminth infection is common in malaria endemic areas, and an interaction between the two would be of considerable public health importance. Animal models suggest that helminth infections may increase susceptibility to malaria, but epidemiological data has been limited and contradictory. Hide abstract
Large-scale studies of genomic variation could assist efforts to eliminate malaria. But there are scientific, ethical and practical challenges to carrying out such studies in developing countries, where the burden of disease is greatest. The Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network (MalariaGEN) is now working to overcome these obstacles, using a consortial approach that brings together researchers from 21 countries. © 2008 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Hide abstract
African Journal of Neurological Sciences, 27 (1), Read abstract2008. Biphasic clinical course among Kenyan children with cerebral malaria
Background: Cerebral malaria is the most severe neurological complication of Falciparum malaria. It is associated with a significant risk of death and neurological sequelae. A biphasic clinical picture is associated with an even greater risk of neurological sequelae. Objective: To examine the incidence and clinical characteristics of a biphasic clinical course in children with cerebral malaria and to study its relationship with outcome Method: We undertook a retrospective study of children admitted to Kilifi District Hospital with a history of impaired consciousness and Falciparum infection between January 1994 and December 2004. We identified children with a biphasic clinical course and examined their clinical characteristics and outcome against that of those with a single clinical course. Results: Out of 587 children with cerebral malaria, 11 were found to have a biphasic clinical course often heralded by recurrence of seizures. This clinical pattern was associated with a greater incidence of neurological sequelae but no death. Conclusion: We speculate that a biphasic clinical course may occur due to recurrent seizures, co-morbidity and reperfusion of cerebral areas previously clogged by parasitized red blood cells. A prospective examination of this group may shed more light on causality and enlighten further on pathogenesis of cerebral malaria. © 2002 African Journal of Neurological Sciences. All rights reserved. Hide abstract
Immunity to malaria develops naturally in endemic regions, but the protective immune mechanisms are poorly understood. Many vaccination strategies aim to induce T cells against diverse pre-erythrocytic antigens, but correlates of protection in the field have been limited. The objective of this study was to investigate cell-mediated immune correlates of protection in natural malaria. Memory T cells reactive against thrombospondin-related adhesive protein (TRAP) and circumsporozoite (CS) protein, major vaccine candidate antigens, were measured, as were frequencies of CD4(+) CD25(high) T cells, which may suppress immunity, and CD56(+) NK cells and gammadelta T cells, which may be effectors or may modulate immunity. Hide abstract
Background: Helminth infection is common in malaria endemic areas, and an interaction between the two would be of considerable public health importance. Animal models suggest that helminth infections may increase susceptibility to malaria, but epidemiological data has been limited and contradictory. Methodology/Principal Findings: In a vaccine trial, we studied 387 one- to six-year-old children for the effect of helminth infections on febrile Plasmodium falciparum malaria episodes. Gastrointestinal helminth infection and eosinophilia were prevalent (25% and 50% respectively), but did not influence susceptibility to malaria. Hazard ratios were 1 for gastrointestinal helminth infection (95% CI 0.6-1.6) and 0.85 and 0.85 for mild and marked eosinophilia, respectively (95% CI 0.56-1.76 and 0.69-1.96). Incident rate ratios for multiple episodes were 0.83 for gastro-intestinal helminth infection (95% CI 0.5-1.33) and 0.86 and 0.98 for mild and marked eosinophilia (95% CI 0.5-1.4 and 0.6-1.5). Conclusions/Significance: There was no evidence that infection with gastrointestinal helminths or urinary schistosomiasis increased susceptibility to Plasmodium falciparum malaria in this study. Larger studies including populations with a greater prevalence of helminth infection should be undertaken. © 2008 Bejon et al. Hide abstract
PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 2 (1), Read abstract2008. Helminth infection and eosinophilia and the risk of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in 1- to 6-year-old children in a malaria endemic area.
BACKGROUND: Helminth infection is common in malaria endemic areas, and an interaction between the two would be of considerable public health importance. Animal models suggest that helminth infections may increase susceptibility to malaria, but epidemiological data has been limited and contradictory. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In a vaccine trial, we studied 387 one- to six-year-old children for the effect of helminth infections on febrile Plasmodium falciparum malaria episodes. Gastrointestinal helminth infection and eosinophilia were prevalent (25% and 50% respectively), but did not influence susceptibility to malaria. Hazard ratios were 1 for gastrointestinal helminth infection (95% CI 0.6-1.6) and 0.85 and 0.85 for mild and marked eosinophilia, respectively (95% CI 0.56-1.76 and 0.69-1.96). Incident rate ratios for multiple episodes were 0.83 for gastro-intestinal helminth infection (95% CI 0.5-1.33) and 0.86 and 0.98 for mild and marked eosinophilia (95% CI 0.5-1.4 and 0.6-1.5). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: There was no evidence that infection with gastrointestinal helminths or urinary schistosomiasis increased susceptibility to Plasmodium falciparum malaria in this study. Larger studies including populations with a greater prevalence of helminth infection should be undertaken. Hide abstract
Antibodies that inhibit Plasmodium falciparum invasion of erythrocytes are believed to be an important component of immunity against malaria. During blood-stage infection, P. falciparum can use different pathways for erythrocyte invasion by varying the expression and/or utilization of members of 2 invasion ligand families: the erythrocyte-binding antigens (EBAs) and reticulocyte-binding homologs (PfRhs). Invasion pathways can be broadly classified into 2 groups based on the use of sialic acid (SA) on the erythrocyte surface by parasite ligands. We found that inhibitory antibodies are acquired by malaria-exposed Kenyan children and adults against ligands of SA-dependent and SA-independent invasion pathways, and the ability of antibodies to inhibit erythrocyte invasion depended on the pathway used by P. falciparum isolates. Differential inhibition of P. falciparum lines that varied in their use of specific EBA and PfRh proteins pointed to these ligand families as major targets of inhibitory antibodies. Antibodies against recombinant EBA and PfRh proteins were acquired in an age-associated manner, and inhibitory antibodies against EBA175 appeared prominent among some individuals. These findings suggest that variation in invasion phenotype might have evolved as a mechanism that facilitates immune evasion by P. falciparum and that a broad inhibitory response against multiple ligands may be required for effective immunity. Hide abstract
In clinical trials, the specificity of the disease endpoint is critical to an accurate estimate of vaccine efficacy. We used a logistic regression model to analyse parasite densities among children before and after treatment with antimalarials, in order to estimate the impact that clearing asymptomatic parasitaemia had on the specificity of the endpoint of febrile malaria. The malaria attributable fever fraction was higher after antimalarial treatment (i.e. fever and parasitaemia were more likely to be causally related), implying that drug treatment prior to monitoring decreased the misclassification of febrile malaria. In intervention studies with febrile malaria as an endpoint, clearing asymptomatic parasitaemia increases the study's power more effectively than raising the threshold parasitaemia. Hide abstract
There is only limited information on the health impact of expanded coverage of malaria control and preventative strategies in Africa. Hide abstract
Malaria has been a major selective force on the human population, and several erythrocyte polymorphisms have evolved that confer resistance to severe malaria. Plasmodium falciparum rosetting, a parasite virulence phenotype associated with severe malaria, is reduced in blood group O erythrocytes compared with groups A, B, and AB, but the contribution of the ABO blood group system to protection against severe malaria has received little attention. We hypothesized that blood group O may confer resistance to severe falciparum malaria through the mechanism of reduced rosetting. In a matched case-control study of 567 Malian children, we found that group O was present in only 21% of severe malaria cases compared with 44-45% of uncomplicated malaria controls and healthy controls. Group O was associated with a 66% reduction in the odds of developing severe malaria compared with the non-O blood groups (odds ratio 0.34, 95% confidence interval 0.19-0.61, P < 0.0005, severe cases versus uncomplicated malaria controls). In the same sample set, P. falciparum rosetting was reduced in parasite isolates from group O children compared with isolates from the non-O blood groups (P = 0.003, Kruskal-Wallis test). Statistical analysis indicated a significant interaction between host ABO blood group and parasite rosette frequency that supports the hypothesis that the protective effect of group O operates through the mechanism of reduced P. falciparum rosetting. This work provides insights into malaria pathogenesis and suggests that the selective pressure imposed by malaria may contribute to the variable global distribution of ABO blood groups in the human population. Hide abstract
Four cytokine receptor genes are located on Chr21q22.11, encoding the alpha and beta subunits of the interferon-alpha receptor (IFNAR1 and IFNAR2), the beta subunit of the interleukin 10 receptor (IL10RB) and the second subunit of the interferon-gamma receptor (IFNGR2). We previously reported that two variants in IFNAR1 were associated with susceptibility to malaria in Gambians. We now present an extensive fine-scale mapping of the associated region utilizing 45 additional genetic markers obtained from public databases and by sequencing a 44 kb region in and around the IFNAR1 gene in 24 Gambian children (12 cases/12 controls). Within the IFNAR1 gene, a newly studied C --> G single-nucleotide polymorphism (IFNAR1 272354c-g) at position -576 relative to the transcription start was found to be more strongly associated with susceptibility to severe malaria. Association was observed in three populations: in Gambian (P=0.002), Kenyan (P=0.022) and Vietnamese (P=0.005) case-control studies. When all three studies were combined, using the Mantel-Haenszel test, the presence of IFNAR1 -576G was associated with a substantially elevated risk of severe malaria (N=2444, OR=1.38, 95% CI: 1.17-1.64; P=1.7 x 10(-4)). This study builds on previous work to further highlight the importance of the type-I interferon pathway in malaria susceptibility and illustrates the utility of typing SNPs within regions of high linkage disequilibrium in multiple populations to confirm initial positive associations. Hide abstract
JAMA-JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, 298 (11), pp. 1274-1274. | Read more2007. Neurological involvement in acute falciparum malaria in Kenyan children - Reply
J Immunol, 179 (6), pp. 4193-4201. Read abstract2007. The induction and persistence of T cell IFN-gamma responses after vaccination or natural exposure is suppressed by Plasmodium falciparum.
Epidemiological observations suggest that T cell immunity may be suppressed in malaria-endemic areas. In vitro studies, animal models, and limited data in humans link immunosuppression with malaria, malnutrition, and other parasitic infections. However, there are no data to determine whether malaria-induced immunosuppression is significant in the long-term, or relative data comparing it with other factors in malaria-endemic areas, so as to measure the impact of malaria, other parasitic disease, nutritional status, age. and location on the acquisition and longevity of IFN-gamma responses in children in Kenya. We studied these factors in two cohorts of 1- to 6-year-old children in a malaria-endemic area. T cell responses were induced by vaccination in one cohort, and acquired as a result of natural exposure in a second cohort. Serial ELISPOT assays conducted over a 1-year period measured the induction and kinetics of IFN-gamma production in response to the malaria Ag thrombospondin-related adhesion protein. Induced responses in both cohorts and the longevity of response in the vaccinated cohort were fitted to potential explanatory variables. Parasitemia was prospectively associated with reduced IFN-gamma-producing T cells in both cohorts (by 15-25%), and both parasitemia and episodes of febrile malaria were associated with 19 and 31% greater attrition of T cell responses, respectively. Malaria may reduce the efficacy vaccinations such as bacillus Calmette-Guérin and investigational T cell-inducing vaccines, and may delay the acquisition of immunity following natural exposure to malaria and other pathogens. Hide abstract
"FFM ME-TRAP" is sequential immunisation with two attenuated poxvirus vectors (FP9 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara) delivering the pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen ME-TRAP. Over nine months follow-up in our original study, there was no evidence that FFM ME-TRAP provided protection against malaria. The incidence of malaria was slightly higher in children who received FFM ME-TRAP, but this was not statistically significant (hazard ratio 1.5, 95% CI 1.0-2.3). Although the study was unblinded, another nine months follow-up was planned to monitor the incidence of malaria and other serious adverse events. Hide abstract
In clinical trials, maternal tetanus toxoid (TT) vaccination is effective in protecting newborns against tetanus infection, but inadequate placental transfer of tetanus antibodies may contribute to lower-than-expected rates of protection in routine practice. We studied the effect of placental malaria and maternal human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection on placental transfer of antibodies to tetanus. Hide abstract
Clinical trials of interventions designed to prevent severe falciparum malaria in children require a clear endpoint. The internationally accepted definition of severe malaria is sensitive, and appropriate for clinical purposes. However, this definition includes individuals with severe nonmalarial disease and coincident parasitaemia, so may lack specificity in vaccine trials. Although there is no "gold standard" individual test for severe malaria, malaria-attributable fractions (MAFs) can be estimated among groups of children using a logistic model, which we use to test the suitability of various case definitions as trial endpoints. Hide abstract
Many studies on the role of merozoite surface protein 3 (MSP3) in immunity against malaria have focused on a conserved section of MSP3. New evidence suggests that polymorphic sequences within MSP3 are under immune selection. We report a detailed analysis of naturally-acquired antibodies to allele-specific and conserved parts of MSP3 in a Kenyan cohort. Indirect and competition ELISA to heterologous recombinant MSP3 proteins were used for antibody assays, and parasites were genotyped for msp3 alleles. Antibody reactivity to allele-specific and conserved epitopes of MSP3 was heterogeneous between individuals. Overall, the prevalence of allele-specific antibody reactivity was significantly higher (3D7-specific 54%, K1-specific 41%) than that to a recombinant protein representing a conserved portion of C-terminal MSP3 (24%, P < 0.01). The most abundant IgG subclass was IgG3, followed by IgG1. Allele-specific reactivity to the K1-type of MSP3 was associated with a lower risk of clinical malaria episodes during a 6-month follow-up in individuals who were parasitized at the start of the malaria transmission season (Relative risk 0.41 with 95% confidence interval 0.20-0.81, P = 0.011). The potential importance of allele-specific immunity to MSP3 should be considered in addition to immunity to conserved epitopes, in the development of an MSP3 malaria vaccine. Hide abstract
Cytoadherence of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes to host endothelium has been associated with pathology in severe malaria, but, despite extensive information on the primary processes involved in the adhesive interactions, the mechanisms underlying disease are poorly understood. Hide abstract
Mol Biochem Parasitol, 154 (1), pp. 98-102. | Read more2007. An approach to classifying sequence tags sampled from Plasmodium falciparum var genes.
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 77 (1), pp. 22-28. Read abstract2007. Antibodies among men and children to placental-binding Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes that express var2csa.
During pregnancy, specific variants of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes (IEs) can accumulate in the placenta through adhesion to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA) mediated by expression of PfEMP1 encoded by var2csa-type genes. Antibodies against these variants are associated with protection from maternal malaria. We evaluated antibodies among Kenyan, Papua New Guinean, and Malawian men and Kenyan children against two different CSA-binding P. falciparum isolates expressing var2csa variants. Specific IgG was present at significant levels among some men and children from each population, suggesting exposure to these variants is not exclusive to pregnancy. However, the level and prevalence of antibodies was substantially lower overall than exposed multigravidas. IgG-binding was specific and did not represent antibodies to subpopulations of non-CSA-binding IEs, and some sera inhibited IE adhesion to CSA. These findings have significant implications for understanding malaria pathogenesis and immunity and may be significant for understanding the acquisition of immunity to maternal malaria. Hide abstract
The invasion of erythrocytes by Plasmodium falciparum occurs through multiple pathways that can be studied in vitro by examining the invasion of erythrocytes treated with enzymes such as neuraminidase, trypsin, and chymotrypsin. We have studied the invasion pathways used by 31 Kenyan P. falciparum isolates from children with uncomplicated or severe malaria. Six distinct invasion profiles were detected, out of eight possible profiles. The majority of isolates (23 of 31) showed neuraminidase-resistant, trypsin-sensitive invasion, characteristic of the pathway mediated by an unknown parasite ligand and erythrocyte receptor "X." The neuraminidase-sensitive, trypsin-sensitive phenotype consistent with invasion mediated by the binding of parasite ligand erythrocyte binding antigen 175 to glycophorin A, the most common invasion profile in a previous study of Gambian field isolates, was seen in only 3 of 31 Kenyan isolates. No particular invasion profile was associated with severe P. falciparum malaria, and there was no significant difference in the levels of inhibition by the various enzyme treatments between isolates from children with severe malaria and those from children with uncomplicated malaria (P, >0.1 for all enzymes; Mann-Whitney U test). These results do not support the hypothesis that differences in invasion phenotypes play an important role in malaria virulence and indicate that considerable gaps remain in our knowledge of the molecular basis of invasion pathways in natural P. falciparum infections. Hide abstract
Plasmodium falciparum appears to have a particular propensity to involve the brain but the burden, risk factors, and full extent of neurological involvement have not been systematically described. Hide abstract
BMJ, 334 (7596), pp. 709-710. | Read more2007. UK doctors are already put off by changes in training.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and members of their signaling pathway are important in the initiation of the innate immune response to a wide variety of pathogens. The adaptor protein Mal (also known as TIRAP), encoded by TIRAP (MIM 606252), mediates downstream signaling of TLR2 and TLR4 (refs. 4-6). We report a case-control study of 6,106 individuals from the UK, Vietnam and several African countries with invasive pneumococcal disease, bacteremia, malaria and tuberculosis. We genotyped 33 SNPs, including rs8177374, which encodes a leucine substitution at Ser180 of Mal. We found that heterozygous carriage of this variant associated independently with all four infectious diseases in the different study populations. Combining the study groups, we found substantial support for a protective effect of S180L heterozygosity against these infectious diseases (N = 6,106; overall P = 9.6 x 10(-8)). We found that the Mal S180L variant attenuated TLR2 signal transduction. Hide abstract
Macrophage-migration inhibitory factor (MIF), one of the first cytokines described, has a broad range of proinflammatory properties. The genome sequencing project of Plasmodium falciparum identified a parasite homologue of MIF. The protein is expressed during the asexual blood stages of the parasite life cycle that cause malarial disease. The identification of a parasite homologue of MIF raised the question of whether it affects monocyte function in a manner similar to its human counterpart. Hide abstract
Haptoglobin (Hp) genotype determines the efficiency of hemoglobin clearance after malaria-induced hemolysis and alters antioxidant and immune functions. The Hp2 allele is thought to have spread under strong selection pressure, but it is unclear whether this is due to protection from malaria or other diseases. Hide abstract
The blood level of soluble urokinase receptor (suPAR) is increased and associated with a poor clinical or fatal outcome in children with acute malaria. This study hypothesized that the suPAR level would be associated with foetal outcome in maternal malaria. suPAR was measured by ELISA in maternal and cord plasma samples taken during delivery in 253 pregnant Kenyan women stratified according to placental histology: no malaria infection (non-infected), active or active-chronic infection (actively infected) or past-chronic infection (past-infected). Maternal-suPAR was higher in actively infected women (median 3.93 (IQR 2.92-5.29) ng/mL) compared with non-infected (median 2.78 (IQR 1.86-3.87) ng/mL, P = 0.001) and past-infected (median 2.67 (IQR 1.94-3.7) ng/mL, P = 0.012) women. Cord-suPAR was comparable across the groups (median 2.98 (IQR 2.38-3.77) ng/mL). In actively infected women, maternal-suPAR and gestational age were the only independent predictors of birth weight in multivariate linear regression adjusted for maternal-suPAR, HIV-1 infection, age, BMI, haemoglobin, peripheral parasitaemia, parity and gestational age; 1 ng/mL higher maternal-suPAR predicted -56 g (95% CI -100 to -12, P = 0.016) reduced birth weight. Cord-suPAR could not predict birth weight after adjusting for gestational age. Future studies are warranted to investigate whether the maternal suPAR level is increased earlier in pregnancy in women with active placental malaria infection and whether early maternal suPAR measurements can predict birth weight. If so, measurements of maternal suPAR early in pregnancy might then potentially identify women with increased needs for antenatal care and intervention. Hide abstract
BACKGROUND: "FFM ME-TRAP" is sequential immunisation with two attenuated poxvirus vectors (FP9 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara) delivering the pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen ME-TRAP. Over nine months follow-up in our original study, there was no evidence that FFM ME-TRAP provided protection against malaria. The incidence of malaria was slightly higher in children who received FFM ME-TRAP, but this was not statistically significant (hazard ratio 1.5, 95% CI 1.0-2.3). Although the study was unblinded, another nine months follow-up was planned to monitor the incidence of malaria and other serious adverse events. METHODS AND FINDINGS: 405 children aged 1-6 yrs were initially randomized to vaccination with either FFM ME-TRAP or control (rabies vaccine). 380 children were still available for follow-up after the first nine months. Children were seen weekly and whenever they were unwell for nine months monitoring. The axillary temperature was measured, and blood films taken when febrile. The primary analysis was time to parasitaemia >2,500/microl. During the second nine months monitoring, 49 events met the primary endpoint (febrile malaria with parasites >2,500/microl) in the Intention To Treat (ITT) group. 23 events occurred among the 189 children in the FFM ME-TRAP group, and 26 among the 194 children in the control group. In the full 18 months of monitoring, there were 63 events in the FFM ME-TRAP group and 60 in the control group (HR = 1.2, CI 0.84-1.73, p = 0.35). There was no evidence that the HR changed over the 18 months (test for interaction between time and vaccination p = 0.11). CONCLUSIONS: Vaccination with FFM ME-TRAP was not protective against malaria in this study. Malaria incidence during 18 months of surveillance was similar in both vaccine groups. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN88335123. Hide abstract
A recently proposed mechanism of protection for haemoglobin C (HbC; beta6Glu-->Lys) links an abnormal display of PfEMP1, an antigen involved in malaria pathogenesis, on the surface of HbC infected erythrocytes together with the observation of reduced cytoadhesion of parasitized erythrocytes and impaired rosetting in vitro. We investigated the impact of this hypothesis on the development of acquired immunity against Plasmodium falciparum variant surface antigens (VSA) encoding PfEMP1 in HbC in comparison with HbA and HbS carriers of Burkina Faso. We measured: i) total IgG against a single VSA, A4U, and against a panel of VSA from severe malaria cases in human sera from urban and rural areas of Burkina Faso of different haemoglobin genotypes (CC, AC, AS, SC, SS); ii) total IgG against recombinant proteins of P. falciparum asexual sporozoite, blood stage antigens, and parasite schizont extract; iii) total IgG against tetanus toxoid. Results showed that the reported abnormal cell-surface display of PfEMP1 on HbC infected erythrocytes observed in vitro is not associated to lower anti- PfEMP1 response in vivo. Higher immune response against the VSA panel and malaria antigens were observed in all adaptive genotypes containing at least one allelic variant HbC or HbS in the low transmission urban area whereas no differences were detected in the high transmission rural area. In both contexts the response against tetanus toxoid was not influenced by the beta-globin genotype. These findings suggest that both HbC and HbS affect the early development of naturally acquired immunity against malaria. The enhanced immune reactivity in both HbC and HbS carriers supports the hypothesis that the protection against malaria of these adaptive genotypes might be at least partially mediated by acquired immunity against malaria. Hide abstract
Data suggest that antibody responses to malaria parasites merozoite antigens are generally short-lived and this has implications for serological studies and malaria vaccine designs. However, precise data on the kinetics of these responses is lacking. Hide abstract
Journal of the American Medical Association, 298 (11), pp. 1274-1274.2007. In reply 
Sickle cell disease (SCD) has recently been recognised as a problem of major public-health significance by the World Health Organization. Despite the fact that >70% of sufferers live in Africa, expenditure on the related care and research in the continent is negligible, and most advances in the understanding and management of this condition have been based on research conducted in the North. In order to target limited resources, African countries need to focus research and interventions on areas that will lead to the maximum impact. This review details the epidemiological and clinical background of SCD, with an emphasis on Africa, before identifying the research priorities that will provide the necessary evidence base for improving the management of African patients. Malaria, bacterial and viral infections and cerebrovascular accidents are areas in which further research may lead to a significant improvement in SCD-related morbidity and mortality. As patients with high concentrations of foetal haemoglobin (HbF) appear to be protected from all but mild SCD, the various factors and pharmacological agents that might increase HbF levels need to be assessed in Africa, as options for interventions that would improve quality of life and reduce mortality. Hide abstract
The ability of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes to adhere to host endothelial cells via receptor molecules such as ICAM-1 and CD36 is considered a hallmark for the development of severe malaria syndromes. These molecules are also expressed on leukocytes such as dendritic cells. Dendritic cells are antigen-presenting cells that are crucial for the initiation of adaptive immune responses. In many human diseases, their frequency and function is perturbed. We analyzed the frequency of peripheral blood dendritic cell subsets and the plasma concentrations of interleukin-10 (IL-10) and IL-12 in Kenyan children with severe malaria and during convalescence and related these parameters to the adhesion phenotype of the acute parasite isolates. The frequency of CD1c(+) dendritic cells in children with acute malaria was comparable to that in healthy controls, but the frequency of BDCA3(+) dendritic cells was significantly increased. Analysis of the adhesion phenotypes of parasite isolates revealed that adhesion to ICAM-1 was associated with the frequency of peripheral blood CD1c(+) dendritic cells, whereas the adhesion of infected erythrocytes to CD36 correlated with high concentrations of IL-10 and low concentrations of IL-12 in plasma. Hide abstract
Two different cell populations respond to potent T-cell-inducing vaccinations. The induction and loss of effector cells can be seen using an ex vivo enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay, but the more durable resting memory response is demonstrable by a cultured ELISPOT assay. The relationship of the early effector response to durable resting memory is incompletely understood. Effector phenotype is usually identified by gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) production, but interleukin-2 (IL-2) has been specifically linked to the differentiation of memory cells. Here, IFN-gamma- and IL-2-secreting effector cells were identified by an ex vivo ELISPOT assay 1 week after vaccination and compared with the resting memory responses detected by a cultured ELISPOT assay 3 months later. The different kinetics and induction of IL-2 by different vaccines and natural exposure are described. Furthermore, both early IFN-gamma and IL-2 production independently predicted subsequent memory responses at 3 months in malaria-naïve volunteers, but only IFN-gamma predicted memory in malaria-exposed volunteers. However, dual ELISPOT assays were also performed on malaria-exposed volunteers to identify cells producing both cytokines simultaneously. This demonstrated that double-cytokine-producing cells were highly predictive of memory. This assay may be useful in predicting vaccinations most likely to generate stable, long-term memory responses. Hide abstract
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HYGIENE, 75 (5), pp. 104-104.2006. Limited global diversity of antibody epitopes expressed by placental binding Plasmodium falciparum variants
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HYGIENE, 75 (5), pp. 283-283.2006. Phenotypic variation in P-falciparum invasion of erythrocytes is a mechanism of immune evasion
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HYGIENE, 75 (5), pp. 151-151.2006. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in trap associate with severe malarial disease: A novel parasite virulence gene
Plasmodium falciparum infection may result in severe malaria in susceptible individuals. The pathogenesis of severe disease is probably a combination of the sequestration of infected erythrocytes and overstimulation of the immune response. Monocytes are a key source of many of the pro-inflammatory agents implicated but also are found sequestered in blood vessels. However, little is known about the monocyte phenotype in malaria disease. Flow cytometry was performed on fresh whole blood to determine surface expression of four receptors during acute severe and non-severe malaria and again during convalescence when uninfected. Three hundred and fifty-six children with P. falciparum infection were studied and were found to show increased expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR), CD23 and chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5) (P<0.001) during acute disease compared with convalescent levels. Using multivariate analysis, it was found that large increases in expression of ICAM-1 (odds ratio (OR) 2.44, 95% CI 1.80-3.32) and uPAR (OR 3.14, 95% CI 1.93-5.09) but small increases in expression of CD23 (OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.68-0.96) were independently associated with severe malaria. These results give an insight into the cellular processes occurring in severe malaria and suggest that pathology is based on a complex repertoire of pro- and anti-inflammatory processes. Hide abstract
The objective was to measure the efficacy of the vaccination regimen FFM ME-TRAP in preventing episodes of clinical malaria among children in a malaria endemic area. FFM ME-TRAP is sequential immunisation with two attenuated poxvirus vectors (FP9 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara), which both deliver the pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen construct multiple epitope-thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (ME-TRAP). Hide abstract
Erythrocyte binding antigens of Plasmodium falciparum are involved in erythrocyte invasion, and may be targets of acquired immunity. Of the five eba genes, protein products have been detected for eba-175, eba-181 and eba-140, but not for psieba-165 or ebl-1, providing opportunity for comparative analysis of genetic variation to identify selection. Region II of each of these genes was sequenced from a cross-sectional sample of parasites in an endemic Kenyan population, and the frequency distributions of polymorphisms analysed. A positive value of Tajima's D was observed for eba-175 (D=1.13) indicating an excess of intermediate frequency polymorphisms, while all other genes had negative values, the most negative being ebl-1 (D=-2.35) followed by psieba-165 (D=-1.79). The eba-175 and ebl-1 genes were then studied in a sample of parasites from Thailand, for which a positive Tajima's D value was again observed for eba-175 (D=1.79), and a negative value for ebl-1 (D=-1.85). This indicates that eba-175 is under balancing selection in each population, in strong contrast to the other members of the gene family, particularly ebl-1 and psieba-165 that may have been under recent directional selection. Population expansion simulations were performed under a neutral model, further supporting the departures from neutrality of these genes. Hide abstract
Plasmodium falciparum merozoites invade erythrocytes using a range of alternative ligands that includes erythrocyte binding antigenic proteins (EBAs) and reticulocyte binding protein homologues (Rh). Variation in the expression of some of these genes among culture-adapted parasite lines correlates with the use of different erythrocyte receptors. Here, expression profiles of four Rh genes and eba175 are analysed in a sample of 42 isolates cultured from malaria patients in Kenya. The profiles cluster into distinct groups, largely because of very strong negative correlations between the levels of expression of particular gene pairs (Rh1 versus Rh2b, eba175 versus Rh2b, and eba175 versus Rh4), previously associated with alternative invasion pathways in culture-adapted parasite lines. High levels of eba175 are seen in isolates in expression profile group I, and may be associated with sialic acid-dependent invasion. Groups II and III are, respectively, characterized by high levels of Rh2b and Rh4, and are more likely to be associated with sialic acid-independent invasion. Hide abstract
A heterologous prime-boost strategy has been developed to potently induce T cell responses to pre-erythrocytic malaria antigens. Efficacy in the field is likely to depend on both peak immunogenicity and the durability of responses. To improve both immunogenicity and durability of responses, 54 adult males from a malaria endemic area were immunized with different vaccination regimens, systematically varying antigenic insert and the number and sequence of component vaccinations. The component vaccinations were recombinant attenuated viruses, either fowlpox (FP) 9 or modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA). These were recombinant for either of two pre-erythrocytic malaria antigens (multiple epitope-thrombospondin-related adhesion protein, ME-TRAP, or circumsporozoite antigen (CS). ELISPOT assays were used to measure the effector and resting memory T cell responses. Sequence, antigen insert and number of vaccinations influenced immunogenicity, but the novel alternating vector immunizations generated the largest resting memory T cell populations. Effector responses were maintained at 84% of the peak response after 270 days. This durability of response is unprecedented. Classical prime-boost vaccination responses were at 5% of the peak after 270 days. Vaccines administered by heterologous prime-boost regimes are being developed for diverse pathogens and cancer. These data suggest these vaccines should also be administered by alternating vector regimens in clinical development. Hide abstract
In a phase 1 trial, 22 children in a malaria endemic area were immunised with candidate malaria vaccination regimes. The regimes used two recombinant viral vectors, attenuated fowlpox strain FP9 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA). Both encoded the pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen construct ME-TRAP. Strong T cell responses were detected by both ex vivo and cultured ELISpot assays. Data from phase 1 trials in adults on anti-vector responses raised by FP9 is presented. These responses partially cross-reacted with MVA, and detectably reduced the immunogenicity of vaccination with MVA. This prompted the comparison of half dose and full dose FP9 priming vaccinations in children. Regimes using half dose FP9 priming tended to be more immunogenic than full dose. The potential for enhanced immunogenicity with half doses of priming vectors warrants further investigation, and larger studies to determine protection against malaria in children are required. Hide abstract
The merozoite surface protein (MSP) 2 is a vaccine candidate antigen of Plasmodium falciparum that is polymorphic in natural populations. In a prospective cohort study in two coastal populations of Kenya using recombinant proteins derived from the two major allelic types of MSP2, high serum levels of IgG to MSP2 were associated with protection from clinical malaria. This protection was independent of that associated with antibodies to another vaccine candidate antigen (AMA1) in these populations. However, low antibody levels to MSP2 appeared to be associated with increased susceptibility to malaria within people who were parasite negative at the time of serum collection. These data suggest that an MSP2 based vaccine should be designed to induce high level antibody responses against the different MSP2 types present globally in P. falciparum populations and that MSP2 could be combined with other P. falciparum antigens to form a multi-component malaria vaccine. Hide abstract
J Immunol, 176 (9), pp. 5504-5512. Read abstract2006. CD4 T cells from malaria-nonexposed individuals respond to the CD36-Binding Domain of Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein-1 via an MHC class II-TCR-independent pathway.
We have studied the human CD4 T cell response to a functionally conserved domain of Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein-1, cysteine interdomain region-1alpha (CIDR-1alpha). Responses to CIDR-1alpha were striking in that both exposed and nonexposed donors responded. The IFN-gamma response to CIDR-1alpha in the nonexposed donors was partially independent of TCR engagement of MHC class II and peptide. Contrastingly, CD4 T cell and IFN-gamma responses in malaria-exposed donors were MHC class II restricted, suggesting that the CD4 T cell response to CIDR-1alpha in malaria semi-immune adults also has a TCR-mediated component, which may represent a memory response. Dendritic cells isolated from human peripheral blood were activated by CIDR-1alpha to produce IL-12, IL-10, and IL-18. IL-12 was detectable only between 6 and 12 h of culture, whereas the IL-10 continued to increase throughout the 24-h time course. These data strengthen previous observations that P. falciparum interacts directly with human dendritic cells, and suggests that the interaction between CIDR-1alpha and the host cell may be responsible for regulation of the CD4 T cell and cytokine responses to P. falciparum-infected erythrocytes reported previously. Hide abstract
Antibodies that inhibit replication of Plasmodium falciparum in erythrocytes are thought to be important both in acquired immunity to malaria and as mediators of immunity generated by candidate blood-stage vaccines. However, several constraints have limited the study of these functional antibodies in population studies and vaccine trials. We report the development and optimization of high-throughput growth inhibition assays with improved sensitivity that use minimal volumes of test serum. The major inhibitory activity of serum from exposed donors was antibody mediated, but nonspecific inhibitory factors were found in untreated serum. Culture volumes could be effectively reduced to 25 microl to limit amounts of test serum or inhibitors used in assays. Performing inhibition assays over two cycles of parasite replication gave greater sensitivity than single-cycle assays, and a simple two-cycle inhibition assay was developed that yielded highly reproducible results. Determination of parasite growth by flow cytometry was most suitable for high-throughput assays using small culture volumes and was more sensitive than parasite lactate dehydrogenase assays and less prone to error and variation than microscopy. We evaluated and optimized methods to remove antimalarials and nonspecific inhibitory factors from serum that are suitable for use with small volumes of samples that are typically obtained from clinical studies. Both microdialysis and immunoglobulin purification by ammonium sulfate precipitation were effective and practical. These methods should facilitate evaluation of vaccine trials and clinical studies of immunity and are also suitable for testing drugs and other compounds for antimalarial activity. Hide abstract
The alpha-thalassaemias are the commonest genetic disorders of humans. It is generally believed that this high frequency reflects selection through a survival advantage against death from malaria; nevertheless, the epidemiological description of the relationships between alpha-thalassaemia, malaria, and other common causes of child mortality remains incomplete. Hide abstract
We are developing a heterologous prime-boost vaccine strategy against malaria. This approach uses sequential immunization with different vectors to deliver a common preerythrocytic malaria antigen. Preliminary evidence of efficacy and safety has been previously documented in studies from an area where malaria is nonendemic. Additional safety data from an area where malaria is endemic are now required before larger-scale studies are undertaken to determine the efficacy of this vaccine strategy in the field. Other modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) recombinants and prime-boost immunizations are being developed as vaccines against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, tuberculosis, and cancer, and MVA is a candidate attenuated smallpox vaccine. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 74 (4), pp. 578-584. Read abstract2006. Frequencies of peripheral blood myeloid cells in healthy Kenyan children with alpha+ thalassemia and the sickle cell trait.
The high frequencies of both alpha+ thalassemia and the sickle cell trait (hemoglobin AS [HbAS]) found in many tropical populations are thought to reflect selection pressure from Plasmodium falciparum malaria. For HbAS, but not for alpha+ thalassemia, protection appears to be mediated by the enhanced phagocytic clearance of ring-infected erythrocytes. We have investigated the genotype-specific distributions of peripheral blood leukocyte populations in two groups of children living on the coast of Kenya: a group of healthy P. falciparum parasite-negative children sampled at cross-sectional survey during a period of low malaria transmission, and a group of children attending the hospital with acute malaria. We report distinctive distributions of peripheral blood myeloid dendritic cells and monocytes in children with alpha+ thalassemia and HbAS during healthy periods and disease, and suggest ways in which these might relate to the mechanisms of protection afforded by these conditions. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 74 (4), pp. 554-563. Read abstract2006. Low multiplication rates of African Plasmodium falciparum isolates and lack of association of multiplication rate and red blood cell selectivity with malaria virulence.
Two potential malaria virulence factors, parasite multiplication rate (PMR) and red blood cell selectivity (measured as selectivity index [SI]), were assessed in Plasmodium falciparum clinical isolates from Mali and Kenya. At both sites, PMRs were low (Kenya median = 2.2, n = 33; Mali median = 2.6, n = 61) and did not differ significantly between uncomplicated and severe malaria cases. Malian isolates from hyperparasitemic patients had significantly lower PMRs (median = 1.8, n = 19) than other Malian isolates (uncomplicated malaria median = 3.1, n = 23; severe malaria median = 2.8, n = 19; P = 0.03, by Kruskal-Wallis test). Selective invasion occurred at both sites (Kenya geometric mean SI = 1.9, n = 98; Mali geometric mean SI = 1.6, n = 104), and there was no significant association between the SI and malaria severity. Therefore, in contrast to previous results from Thailand, we found no association of PMR and SI with malaria severity in African children. This raises the possibility of differences in the mechanisms of malaria virulence between sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 74 (3), pp. 367-375. Read abstract2006. Cellular reactivity to the p. Falciparum protein trap in adult kenyans: novel epitopes, complex cytokine patterns, and the impact of natural antigenic variation.
Malaria vaccines based on thrombospondin-related adhesive protein of Plasmodium falciparum (Pf TRAP) are currently undergoing clinical trials in humans. This study was designed to investigate naturally acquired cellular immunity to Pf TRAP in adults from a target population for future trials of TRAP-based vaccines in Kilifi, Kenya. We first tested reactivity to a panel of 53 peptides spanning Pf TRAP and identified 26 novel T-cell epitopes. A panel of naturally occurring polymorphic variant epitope peptides were made to the most commonly recognized epitope regions and tested for ability to elicit IFN-gamma, IL-4, and IL-10 production. These data provide for the first time a complex cytokine matrix mapping naturally induced T-cell responses to TRAP and suggest that T-cell responses boosted by vaccination with Pf TRAP could stimulate the release of competing pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. They further define polymorphic variants able to boost specific Th1, Th2, and possibly Tr1 reactivity. Hide abstract
DEVELOPMENTAL MEDICINE AND CHILD NEUROLOGY, 48 pp. 13-14.2006. Spectrum of cerebral blood flow velocities measured by transcranial Doppler ultrasonography in children with sickle cell disease in Africa
An intercellular adhesion molecule-1 polymorphism (ICAM-1(Kilifi)) is present at a high frequency across sub-Saharan Africa, and its presence may increase susceptibility to cerebral malaria. Here, we report that, compared with children in whom wild-type intercellular adhesion molecule-1 is present, the incidence of nonmalarial fever is significantly lower among those homozygous for ICAM-1(Kilifi). We propose that ICAM-1(Kilifi) may be associated with reduced rates of tissue damage and of death due to sepsis. Hide abstract
While many individual genes have been identified that confer protection against malaria, the overall impact of host genetics on malarial risk remains unknown. Hide abstract
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HYGIENE, 73 (6), pp. 339-339.2005. Improvement of Plasmodium Falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein-1 (PfEMP-1) vaccine antigens using directed molecular evolution
The hemoglobinopathies, disorders of hemoglobin structure and production, protect against death from malaria. In sub-Saharan Africa, two such conditions occur at particularly high frequencies: presence of the structural variant hemoglobin S and alpha(+)-thalassemia, a condition characterized by reduced production of the normal alpha-globin component of hemoglobin. Individually, each is protective against severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria, but little is known about their malaria-protective effects when inherited in combination. We investigated this question by studying a population on the coast of Kenya and found that the protection afforded by each condition inherited alone was lost when the two conditions were inherited together, to such a degree that the incidence of both uncomplicated and severe P. falciparum malaria was close to baseline in children heterozygous with respect to the mutation underlying the hemoglobin S variant and homozygous with respect to the mutation underlying alpha(+)-thalassemia. Negative epistasis could explain the failure of alpha(+)-thalassemia to reach fixation in any population in sub-Saharan Africa. Hide abstract
The variant surface antigens expressed on Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes are potentially important targets of immunity to malaria and are encoded, at least in part, by a family of var genes, about 60 of which are present within every parasite genome. Here we use semi-conserved regions within short var gene sequence "tags" to make direct comparisons of var gene expression in 12 clinical parasite isolates from Kenyan children. A total of 1,746 var clones were sequenced from genomic and cDNA and assigned to one of six sequence groups using specific sequence features. The results show the following. (1) The relative numbers of genomic clones falling in each of the sequence groups was similar between parasite isolates and corresponded well with the numbers of genes found in the genome of a single, fully sequenced parasite isolate. In contrast, the relative numbers of cDNA clones falling in each group varied considerably between isolates. (2) Expression of sequences belonging to a relatively conserved group was negatively associated with the repertoire of variant surface antigen antibodies carried by the infected child at the time of disease, whereas expression of sequences belonging to another group was associated with the parasite "rosetting" phenotype, a well established virulence determinant. Our results suggest that information on the state of the host-parasite relationship in vivo can be provided by measurements of the differential expression of different var groups, and need only be defined by short stretches of sequence data. Hide abstract
The virulence of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is due, in part, to its ability to cytoadhere in deep vascular beds. Our inability to quantify the load of sequestered parasites hampers our understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms involved in disease progression and complicates diagnosis. In this study we evaluate potential biochemical markers of sequestered load by comparing them with estimates of the sequestered load from a statistical model fitted to longitudinal patterns of peripheral parasite densities in a series of 22 patients with severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria. The markers comprised the host factors: haematocrit, circulating host DNA, sTNF-R75 and parasite derived products HRP2, pLDH, pigments and circulating parasite DNA. We investigated the suitability of these markers in determining sequestered loads in patients on quinine treatment. Observed peripheral parasitaemia, plasma levels of sTNF-R75 and circulating parasite DNA were most strongly correlated with estimates of sequestered loads on admission. However the dynamics of both sTNF-R75 and circulating parasite DNA during follow-up were very different from those of the estimated sequestered mass. These analyses suggest that none of the markers gave reliable estimates of the current sequestered load, though they may reflect the history of infection. Longitudinal analyses are needed that allow for the clearance rates of the marker molecules and for variations between hosts in the history of parasitaemia. Hide abstract
During the asexual blood stage infection of the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, parasite-derived proteins are inserted onto the surface of the host red blood cell membrane. These proteins are highly variable and were originally thought only to mediate antigenic variation, and sequestration of parasites from peripheral circulation, thus enabling immune evasion. Recent studies have revealed that PfEMP-1 and other molecules on the P. falciparum-infected red blood cell (PfRBC) activate and modulate the immune response. In this review, we discuss how PfRBCs interact with antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and other cells of the immune system, and how such interactions could modulate the host response to Plasmodium infections. Hide abstract
Trust is an important theme running through the literature on the ethics of biomedical research, but it is rarely given centre stage. In this paper, we present data gathered from a study aimed at exploring community views regarding the informed consent processes carried out by a large research centre on the Kenyan Coast. The findings point to the centrality of trust and elements of mistrust in general community views, in parents' (mis)understanding of studies they consent their children to be involved in, in refusals and concerns, and in community members' views about whether informed consent is a relevant and practical model to follow. Tentative ideas on how trust and a healthy mistrust might be balanced highlight the importance of strengthening communication surrounding basic health care as well as research, and of fostering 'an inner generated ethic of service'. The latter is particularly fundamental, but cannot be built and regulated through the laws, policies and guidelines that currently govern biomedical research practice. Hide abstract
Variant surface antigens (VSA) on Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes are potentially important targets of immunity to malaria. We previously identified a VSA phenotype--VSA with a high frequency of antibody recognition (VSA(FoRH))--that is associated with young host age and severe malaria. We hypothesized that VSA(FoRH) are positively selected by host molecules such as intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM1) and CD36 and dominate in the absence of an effective immune response. Here, we assessed, in 115 Kenyan children, the potential role played by in vivo selection pressures in either favoring or selecting against VSA(FoRH) among parasites that cause malaria. Hide abstract
The folate pathway represents a powerful target for combating rapidly dividing systems such as cancer cells, bacteria and malaria parasites. Whereas folate metabolism in mammalian cells and bacteria has been studied extensively, it is understood less well in malaria parasites. In two articles, we attempt to reconstitute the malaria folate pathway based on available information from mammalian and microbial systems, in addition to Plasmodium-genome-sequencing projects. In part I, we focused on folate enzymes that are already used clinically as anticancer drug targets or that are under development in drug-discovery programs. In this article, we discuss mammalian folate enzymes that have not yet been exploited as potential drug targets, and enzymes that function in the de novo folate-synthesis pathway of the parasite--a particularly attractive area of attack because of its absence from the mammalian host. Hide abstract
Ethical dilemmas in biomedical research, especially in vulnerable populations, often spark heated debate. Despite recommendations and guidelines, many issues remain controversial, including the relevance, prioritisation and application of individual voluntary informed consent in non-Western settings. The voices of the people likely to be the subjects of research have been notably absent from the debate. We held discussions with groups of community members living in the rural study area of a large research unit in Kenya. Discussions were facilitated by three research study vignettes outlining one field-based and two hospital-based studies being planned or taking place at the time. In addition to gathering general views about the aims and activities of the research unit, questions focused on whether consent should be sought for studies, and if so from whom (chiefs, elders, men/women, children), and on ascertaining whether there are any special concerns about the physical act of signing consent forms. The findings revealed the community's difficulty in distinguishing research from clinical investigations conducted in clinical settings. There was a spectrum of views regarding perceived appropriateness of consent procedures, in part because of difficulty in disentangling clinical from research aims, and because of other challenges to applying consent in practice. Debates between community members highlight the inadequacy of simplistic assumptions about community members' views on informed consent, and the complexity of incorporating lay opinions into biomedical research. Failure to appreciate these issues risks exaggerating differences between settings, and underestimating the time and resources required to ensure meaningful community involvement in research processes. Ultimately, it risks inadequately responding to the needs and values of those on whom the success of most biomedical research depends. Although compliance with community views does not necessarily make the research more ethical, it is argued that community opinions on local issues and practices should inform ethical decision-making in health research. Hide abstract
To determine the pattern of resistance among Gram-negative bacilli causing invasive bacterial disease for the antibiotics that are already in common use in Kilifi, Kenya and for two potential alternatives, ciprofloxacin and cefotaxime. Also, to determine whether prevalence and severity of resistance was increasing over time, to identify patients who are particularly at risk of resistant infections, and to explore which factors are associated with the development of resistance in our setting. Hide abstract
Etest susceptibilities to amoxicillin, chloramphenicol, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole of 240 invasive isolates of Haemophilus influenzae cultured from children in rural Kenya were 66%, 66%, and 38%, respectively. Resistance increased markedly over 9 years and was concentrated among serotype b isolates. In Africa, the increasing cost of treating resistant infections supports economic arguments for prevention through conjugate H. influenzae type b immunization. Hide abstract
The gene for sickle hemoglobin (HbS) is a prime example of natural selection. It is generally believed that its current prevalence in many tropical populations reflects selection for the carrier form (sickle cell trait [HbAS]) through a survival advantage against death from malaria. Nevertheless, >50 years after this hypothesis was first proposed, the epidemiological description of the relationships between HbAS, malaria, and other common causes of child mortality remains incomplete. Hide abstract
NATURE, 435 (7046), pp. 1146-1149. | Read more2005. A message to the G8 summit
Clear case definitions of malaria are an essential means of evaluating the effectiveness of present and proposed interventions in malaria. The clinical signs of malaria are nonspecific, and parasitemia accompanied by a fever may not be sufficient to define an episode of clinical malaria in endemic areas. We defined and quantified cases of malaria in people of different age groups from 2 areas with different rates of transmission of malaria. Hide abstract
We conducted a study to determine whether clinical algorithms would be useful in malaria diagnosis among people living in an area of moderate malaria transmission within Kilifi District in Kenya. A total of 1602 people of all age groups participated. We took smears and recorded clinical signs and symptoms (prompted or spontaneous) of all those presenting to the study clinic with a history of fever. A malaria case was defined as a person presenting to the clinic with a history of fever and concurrent parasitaemia. A set of clinical signs and symptoms (algorithms) with the highest sensitivity and specificity for diagnosing a malaria case was selected for the age groups </=5 years, 6-14 years and >/=15 years. These age-optimized derived algorithms were able to identify about 66% of the cases among those <15 years of age but only 23% of cases among adults. Were these algorithms to be used as a basis for a decision on treatment among those presenting to the clinic, 16% of children </=5 years, 44% of those 6-14 years of age and 66% of the adults who had a history of fever and parasitaemia >/=5000 parasites/microl of blood would be sent home without treatment. Clinical algorithms therefore appear to have little utility in malaria diagnosis, performing even worse in the older age groups, where avoiding unnecessary use of anti-malarials would make more drugs available to the really needy population of children under 5 years of age. Hide abstract
New inhibitors are urgently needed to overcome the burgeoning problem of drug resistance in the treatment of Plasmodium falciparum infection. Targeting the folate pathway has proved to be a powerful strategy for drug development against rapidly multiplying systems such as cancer cells and microorganisms. Antifolates have long been used for malaria treatment but, despite their success, much less is known about parasite folate metabolism than about that of the human host. In this article, we focus on folate enzymes used clinically as anticancer drug targets, in addition to those that have potential to be used as drug targets, for which there are inhibitors at various stages of development. We discuss how this information could lead to the identification of new targets in malaria parasites. Hide abstract
Young infants are protected from measles infection by maternal measles antibodies. The level of these antibodies at birth depends on the level of antibodies in the mother and the extent of placental transfer. We investigated predictors of levels of measles antibodies in newborns in rural Kenya. Hide abstract
To gain insight into why antibody responses to malarial antigens tend to be short lived, we studied antigen-specific memory B cells from donors in an area where malaria is endemic. We compared antibody and memory B cell responses to tetanus toxoid with those to 3 Plasmodium falciparum candidate vaccine antigens: the C-terminal portion of merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1(19)), apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1), and the cysteine-rich interdomain region 1 alpha (CIDR1 alpha ) of a protein from the P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) family. These data are the first to be generated on memory B cells in children who are in the process of acquiring antimalarial immunity, and they reveal defects in B cell memory to P. falciparum antigens. Compared with the results for tetanus toxoid, more donors who were positive for antibody to AMA1 and CIDR1 alpha were negative for memory B cells. These data imply that some exposures to malaria do not result in the establishment of stable populations of circulating antigen-specific memory B cells, suggesting possible mechanisms for the short-lived nature of many anti-malarial antibody responses. Hide abstract
Malaria is a global problem, and there is a critical need for further understanding of the disease process. When malarial parasites invade and develop within the bloodstream, they stimulate a profound host response whose main clinical sign is fever. To explore this response, we measured host gene expression in whole blood from Kenyan children hospitalized with either acute malaria or other febrile illnesses. Genomewide analysis of expression identified 2 principal gene-expression profiles related to neutrophil and erythroid activity. In addition to these general acute responses, a third gene-expression profile was associated with host parasitemia; mediators of erythrophagocytosis and cellular stress were notable components of this response. The delineation of subjects on the basis of patterns of gene expression provides a molecular perspective of the host response to malaria and further functional insight into the underlying processes of pathogenesis. Hide abstract
Malaria resistance by the sickle cell trait (genotype HbAS) has served as the prime example of genetic selection for over half a century. Nevertheless, the mechanism of this resistance remains the subject of considerable debate. While it probably involves innate factors such as the reduced ability of Plasmodium falciparum parasites to grow and multiply in HbAS erythrocytes, recent observations suggest that it might also involve the accelerated acquisition of malaria-specific immunity. Hide abstract
Sulphadoxine/pyrimethamine (SP) is often administered with quinine in the treatment of severe falciparum malaria to shorten the course of quinine. The efficacy of SP alone in the treatment of non-severe malaria has been declining rapidly in East Africa, raising concerns of the usefulness of a shortened course of quinine followed SP. We audited the efficacy of quinine/SP in the treatment of severe malaria in Kenyan children. Children with severe falciparum malaria were treated with parenteral quinine followed by a single oral dose of SP. A clinical evaluation was performed 3 weeks later in which a blood sample was obtained for full haemogram, blood slide and analysis of the parasite dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) and dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS) codons, mutations of which are associated with resistance to SP. A total of 452 children were enrolled, of whom 374 completed the study. Fifty-two (13.9%) children were parasitaemic by 3 weeks of whom 17 (4.5%) had fever as well. The treatment failure group had a significantly higher parasitaemia (129 061 vs. 43 339; P<0.001) and haemoglobin on admission, but only admission parasitaemia independently predicted treatment failure. Those with treatment failure had a significantly lower rise in haemoglobin at 3 weeks compared with treatment successes (9.0 vs. 10.0 g/dl). Of the 76 parasite isolates collected before treatment, 40 (53%) were triple mutant DHFR-double DHPS (Tp-Db), the genotype most associated with SP resistance. Three weeks after SP treatment, the proportion of Tp-Db increased to 72% (31/43). The high treatment failure rate and proportion of parasites with Tp-Db negate the use of SP to shorten the course of quinine treatment in East Africa. Hide abstract
Resistance to the antifolate sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), the current mass-treatment antimalarial drug, is associated with selection of point mutations in dihydrofolate reductase and dihydropteroate synthase. Among these mutations, the leucine 164 dihydrofolate reductase mutation (Leu-164) is associated with higher levels of SP resistance; this mutation is also associated with a decrease in the efficacy of chlorproguanil/dapsone, a newly developed antifolate antimalarial drug. Leu-164 has been detected in Southeast Asia and South America, regions where SP is no longer effective. Surprisingly, this mutation has not yet been detected in Africa, using the standard protocol based on PCR-RFLP, despite high SP resistance. In this paper, we discuss briefly the reasons why Leu-164 has not yet been selected in Africa and we propose a means that may slow down the selection of this mutation. Hide abstract
To determine how well antibiotic treatment is targeted by simple clinical syndromes and to what extent drug resistance threatens affordable antibiotics. Hide abstract
Iron deficiency has been reported to affect both malaria pathogenesis and cell-mediated immune responses; however, it is unclear whether the protection afforded by iron deficiency is mediated through direct effects on the parasite, through immune effector functions or through both. We have determined cytokine mRNA expression levels in 59 children living in a malaria endemic area on the coast of Kenya who we selected on the basis of their biochemical iron status. Real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis of cytokine mRNA levels of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) obtained from these children showed an association between interleukin-4 (IL-4) mRNA levels and all the biochemical indices of iron that we measured. Furthermore, IL-10 mRNA was higher in parasite blood smear-positive children than in blood smear-negative children irrespective of their iron status. This study suggests that IL-4 expression by PBMC may be affected by iron status. Hide abstract
Metabolic acidosis is the best predictor of death in children with severe falciparum malaria; however, its treatment presents a therapeutic dilemma, because acidosis and hypovolemia may coexist with coma, which can be associated with elevated intracranial pressure. We postulated that volume resuscitation with albumin might correct acidosis and hypovolemia with a lower risk of precipitating cerebral edema than crystalloid. In an open-label, randomized, controlled trial, we compared the safety of resuscitation with albumin to saline in Kenyan children with severe malaria. Hide abstract
Symptomatic severe malarial anaemia (SMA) has a high fatality rate of 30-40%; most deaths occur in children awaiting blood transfusion. Blood transfusion services in most of Africa are not capable of delivering adequate supplies of safe blood in a timely manner to critically ill children with SMA. Contrary to widely held belief, hypovolaemia, rather than heart failure, has emerged as a common complication in such children. We examined the safety of pre-transfusion management (PTM) by volume expansion, aimed at stabilizing children and obviating the urgency for blood transfusion. Kenyan children with severe falciparum anaemia (haemoglobin <5 g/dl) and respiratory distress were randomly assigned to 20 ml/kg of 4.5% albumin or 0.9% saline or maintenance only (control) while awaiting blood transfusion. PTM was apparently safe since it did not lead to the development of pulmonary oedema or other adverse events. There was no significant difference in the primary outcome [mean percentage reduction in base excess between admission and 8 h (95% confidence interval)] between the control group 42% (19-66%) albumin group 44% (32-57%) and saline group 36% (16-57%); adjusted analysis of variance F=0.31, P=0.7. However, the number of children requiring emergency interventions was significantly greater in the control group, four of 18 (22%) than the saline group 0 of 20 (P=0.03). We have established the safety of this PTM in children with SMA whilst awaiting blood transfusion at a hospital with an adequate blood-banking program. The impact on mortality should be assessed where blood transfusion services are unable to supply emergency transfusions. Hide abstract
There are few epidemiologic data on invasive bacterial infections among children in sub-Saharan Africa. We studied every acute pediatric admission to a rural district hospital in Kenya to examine the prevalence, incidence, types, and outcome of community-acquired bacteremia. Hide abstract
Background: Malaria resistance by the sickle cell trait (genotype HbAS) has served as the prime example of genetic selection for over half a century. Nevertheless, the mechanism of this resistance remains the subject of considerable debate. While it probably involves innate factors such as the reduced ability of Plasmodium falciparum parasites to grow and multiply in HbAS erythrocytes, recent observations suggest that it might also involve the accelerated acquisition of malaria-specific immunity. Methods and Findings: We studied the age-specific protection afforded by HbAS against clinical malaria in children living on the coast of Kenya. We found that protection increased with age from only 20% in the first 2 y of life to a maximum of 56% by the age of 10 y, returning thereafter to 30% in participants greater than 10 y old. Conclusions: Our observations suggest that malaria protection by HbAS involves the enhancement of not only innate but also of acquired immunity to the parasite. A better understanding of the underlying mechanisms might yield important insights into both these processes. © 2005 Williams et al. Hide abstract
PLoS Med, 2 (1), pp. e27. | Read more2005. Volume status in severe malaria: no evidence provided for the degree of filling of the intravascular compartment.
PLoS Medicine, 2 pp. 0079-0079. | Read more2005. Volume status in severe malaria: No evidence provided for the degree of filling of the intravascular compartment  (multiple letters)
Serum antibodies from 1071 people in two Kenyan villages were assayed using eight different recombinant Apical Membrane Antigen 1 (AMA1) protein constructs to investigate their role in naturally acquired immunity. In both communities, antibodies against the full-length ectodomain (both FVO and 3D7 allele constructs) prior to a malaria transmission season were significantly associated with protection from malaria in the following 6 months, even after adjusting for age and antibody reactivity to whole parasite (schizont) extract. However, these protective associations of antibodies were only seen among subjects that were parasite slide positive at the time of pre-season serum sampling. Competition ELISAs with the FVO and 3D7 allele constructs showed that antibodies can recognise either conserved or allele-specific epitopes in AMA1. Results encourage the development of an AMA1 vaccine based on the full-length ectodomain, and indicate that the function of human antibodies to allele-specific and conserved epitopes in AMA1 should be studied further. Hide abstract
A major change in recent years has been the recognition that severe malaria, predominantly caused by Plasmodium falciparum, is a complex multi-system disorder presenting with a range of clinical features. It is becoming apparent that syndromes such as cerebral malaria, which were previously considered relatively clear cut, are not homogenous conditions with a single pathological correlate or pathogenic process. This creates challenges both for elucidating key mechanisms of disease and for identifying suitable targets for adjunctive therapy. The development of severe malaria probably results from a combination of parasite-specific factors, such as adhesion and sequestration in the vasculature and the release of bioactive molecules, together with host inflammatory responses. These include cytokine and chemokine production and cellular infiltrates. This review summarizes progress in several areas presented at a recent meeting. Hide abstract
Am J Clin Nutr, 80 (6), pp. 1604-1610. Read abstract2004. Malaria and nutritional status in children living on the coast of Kenya.
The relation between malnutrition and malaria is controversial. On the one hand, malaria may cause malnutrition, whereas on the other hand, malnutrition itself may modulate susceptibility to the disease. Hide abstract
Pediatrics, 114 (6), pp. 1737-1738. | Read more2004. Mortality among Kenyan children admitted to a rural district hospital on weekends as compared with weekdays.
In our research unit on the Kenyan Coast, parents sign consent for over 4000 children to be involved in research activities every year. Children are recruited into studies ranging from purely observational research to the testing of new procedures and drugs. Thousands more community members consent verbally or in writing to the interviews and sometimes invasive procedures required in community-based research. Although every study and consent form is reviewed in advance by independent national and international committees, the views and understanding of the 'subjects' of these activities had not been documented before this study. In this paper, we focus on participant understanding of one field-based and two hospital-based studies, all of which involve blood sampling. The findings highlight a range of inter-related issues for consideration in the study setting and beyond, including conceptual and linguistic barriers to communicating effectively about research, the critical and complex role of communicators (fieldworkers and nurses) in consent procedures, features of research unit-community relations which impact on these processes, and the special sensitivity of certain issues such as blood sampling. These themes and emerging recommendations are expected to be relevant to, and would benefit from, experiences and insights of researchers working elsewhere. Hide abstract
In Plasmodium falciparum-endemic areas, pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) is an important health problem. The condition is precipitated by accumulation of parasite-infected erythrocytes (IEs) in the placenta, and this process is mediated by parasite-encoded variant surface antigens (VSA) binding to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA). Parasites causing PAM express unique VSA types, VSAPAM, which can be serologically classified as sex specific and parity dependent. It is sex specific because men from malaria-endemic areas do not develop VSAPAM antibodies; it is parity dependent because women acquire anti-VSAPAM immunoglobulin (Ig) G as a function of parity. Previously, it was shown that transcription of var2csa is up-regulated in placental parasites and parasites selected for CSA binding. Here, we show the following: (a) that VAR2CSA is expressed on the surface of CSA-selected IEs; (b) that VAR2CSA is recognized by endemic plasma in a sex-specific and parity-dependent manner; (c) that high anti-VAR2CSA IgG levels can be found in pregnant women from both West and East Africa; and (d) that women with high plasma levels of anti-VAR2CSA IgG give birth to markedly heavier babies and have a much lower risk of delivering low birth weight children than women with low levels. Hide abstract
Erythrocytes infected with mature stages of Plasmodium falciparum express variant surface antigens (VSAs) of parasite origin, including P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1. Anti-VSA antibodies protect against clinical malaria caused by parasites bearing VSAs to which they are specific (homologous), but their role in protecting against heterologous infection is unclear. Here, we report that, among 256 Kenyan children involved in a 1-year active case surveillance study, asymptomatic parasitemia was associated with an enlarged repertoire of anti-VSA immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies specific to apparently heterologous parasite isolates, as measured by flow cytometry. Together, asymptomatic infection and anti-VSA IgG were associated with reduced odds of experiencing an episode of clinical malaria during follow-up, whereas, independently, they were associated with increased susceptibility. These results support previous findings and underline the importance of considering the parasitological status of study participants when examining the role that immune responses to VSAs and other malaria antigens play. Hide abstract
The activities of 28 6-substituted 2,4-diaminoquinazolines, 2,4-diamino-5,6,7,8-tetrahydroquinazolines, and 2,4-diaminopteridines against Plasmodium falciparum were tested. The 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC 50s) of six compounds were <50 nM, and the most potent compound was 2,4-diamino-5-chloro-6-[N-(2,5-dimethoxybenzyl)amino]quinazoline (compound 1), with an IC50 of 9 nM. The activity of compound 1 was potentiated by the dihydropteroate synthase inhibitor dapsone, an indication that these compounds are inhibitors of dihydrofolate reductase. Further studies are warranted to assess the therapeutic potential of this combination in vivo. Hide abstract
A discrete-time age-stage model is proposed for estimating the number of sequestered parasites in severe malaria patients. A Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) approach is used to model the dynamics of Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia in 107 paediatric patients in a randomized controlled trial of quinine and artemether in Kenya, in whom 4-hourly peripheral parasitaemia determinations were made. The MCMC approach allows the model to be fitted simultaneously to the entire dataset, providing point and interval estimates for both population and individual patient parameters. Analysis of a simulated dataset indicated that the models gave good estimates of the distribution of parasites between different stages on enrolment, for patients with a wide range of initial states. The analysis of the Kenyan patients suggested that there is considerable variation between patients within the same centre, in both the proportion of sequestered parasites and the intrinsic rate of increase of the parasite population in the absence of treatment. The resulting models should prove a useful tool for cross-validating biochemical approaches for estimating the sequestered load. Hide abstract
Pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) is an important cause of maternal and neonatal suffering. It is caused by Plasmodium falciparum capable of inhabiting the placenta through expression of particular variant surface antigens (VSA) with affinity for proteoglycans such as chondroitin sulfate A. Protective immunity to PAM develops following exposure to parasites inhabiting the placenta, and primigravidae are therefore particularly susceptible to PAM. The adverse consequences of PAM in primigravidae are preventable by intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp), where women are given antimalarials at specified intervals during pregnancy, but this may interfere with acquisition of protective PAM immunity. We found that Kenyan primigravidae receiving sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine IPTp had significantly lower levels of immunoglobulin G (IgG) with specificity for the type of parasite-encoded VSA-called VSA(PAM)-that specifically mediate protection against PAM than did women receiving a placebo. VSA(PAM)-specific IgG levels depended on the number of IPTp doses received and were sufficiently low to be of clinical concern among multidose recipients. Our data suggest that IPTp should be extended to women of all parities, in line with current World Health Organization recommendations. Hide abstract
Both iron deficiency and malaria are common in much of sub-Saharan Africa, and the interaction between these conditions is complex. To investigate the association between nutritional iron status, immunoglobulins, and clinical Plasmodium falciparum malaria, we determined the incidence of malaria in a cohort of children between the ages of 8 months and 8 years who were living on the Kenyan coast. Biochemical iron status and malaria-specific immune responses were determined during 2 cross-sectional surveys. We found that the incidence of clinical malaria was significantly lower among iron-deficient children (incidence-rate ratio [IRR], 0.70; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.51-0.99; P<.05), that the incidence of malaria was significantly associated with plasma ferritin concentration (IRR for log ferritin concentration, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.01-2.17; P<.05), and that iron status was strongly associated with a range of malaria-specific immunoglobulins. We conclude that iron deficiency was associated with protection from mild clinical malaria in our cohort of children in coastal Kenya and discuss possible mechanisms for this protection. Hide abstract
To test the suitability of a simple once daily (OD) gentamicin regimen for use in young infants where routine therapeutic drug monitoring is not possible. Hide abstract
The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum has evolved to prolong its duration of infection by antigenic variation of a major immune target on the surface of the infected red blood cell. This immune evasion strategy depends on the sequential, rather than simultaneous, appearance of immunologically distinct variants. Although the molecular mechanisms by which a single organism switches between variants are known in part, it remains unclear how an entire population of parasites within the host can synchronize expression to avoid rapidly exhausting the variant repertoire. Here we show that short-lived, partially cross-reactive immune responses to parasite-infected erythrocyte surface antigens can produce a cascade of sequentially dominant antigenic variants, each of which is the most immunologically distinct from its preceding types. This model reconciles several previously unexplained and apparently conflicting epidemiological observations by demonstrating that individuals with stronger cross-reactive immune responses can, paradoxically, be more likely to sustain chronic infections. Antigenic variation has always been seen as an adaptation of the parasite to evade host defence: we show that the coordination necessary for the success of this strategy might be provided by the host. Hide abstract
Mature stages of Plasmodium falciparum insert variant antigens (VSA) into the surface of infected erythrocytes, and antibodies against such antigen provide variant-specific protection against malaria. Because mature P. falciparum trophozoites normally sequester away from the peripheral circulation, parasites for anti-VSA antibody studies are obtained from patients as ring trophozoites, cryopreserved, and cultured to maturity when required. However, this process is associated with problems of poor recovery from cryopreservation, growth failure and variations in time different isolates take to mature after recovery. We therefore assessed the use of cryopreserved mature trophozoites in anti-VSA assays. Cryopreservation of parasites did not alter their anti-VSA antibody reactivity phenotype as determined by agglutination assays or flow cytometry. We have therefore demonstrated that cryopreserved mature trophozoites are suitable for use in anti-VSA antibody assays. The use of cryopreserved mature trophozoites could help to circumvent the problems associated with recovery of cryopreserved ring trophozoites. Hide abstract
Recent global malaria control initiatives highlight the potential role of drug retailers to improve access to early effective malaria treatment. We report on the findings and discuss the implications of an educational programme for rural drug retailers and communities in Kenya between 1998 and 2001 in a study population of 70,000. Impact was evaluated through annual household surveys of over-the-counter (OTC) drug use and simulated retail client surveys in an early (1999) and a late (2000) implementation area. The programme achieved major improvements in drug selling practices. The proportion of OTC anti-malarial drug users receiving an adequate dose rose from 8% (n = 98) to 33% (n = 121) between 1998 and 1999 in the early implementation area. By 2001, and with the introduction of sulphadoxine pyrimethamine group drugs in accordance with national policy, this proportion rose to 64% (n = 441) across the early and late implementation areas. Overall, the proportion of shop-treated childhood fevers receiving an adequate dose of a recommended anti-malarial drug within 24 h rose from 1% (n = 681) to 28% (n = 919) by 2001. These findings strongly support the inclusion of private drug retailers in control strategies aiming to improve prompt effective treatment of malaria. Hide abstract
Over the past decade there has been a growing recognition that the rationalization of severe malaria in children into the two major syndromes of cerebral malaria and severe malaria anaemia is much too simplistic. Indeed, it has become apparent that death from severe malaria may arise from a wider spectrum of pathophysiological disorders with many features in common with the derangements seen in sepsis syndromes. Amongst these derangements acidosis has emerged as a central feature of severe malaria and the major predictor of a fatal outcome. We review the improved understanding of the pathophysiology of severe malaria through a series of clinical scenarios that reflect more accurately the clinical diversity of severe malaria in African children. Current therapeutic challenges are discussed and research priorities are highlighted. Hide abstract
Plasmodium falciparum parasites resistant to the combination sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine are spreading in Africa, particularly in East Africa. This is a matter of concern because there are no other affordable drugs available. This article provides the evidence indicating that sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance can be reversed in vitro and discusses how this information might be exploited to extend the therapeutic lifetime of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine in vivo. Hide abstract
To determine the population pharmacokinetics of artemether and dihydroartemisinin in African children with severe malaria and acidosis associated with respiratory distress following an intramuscular injection of artemether. Hide abstract
Pregnancy-associated malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum adherence to chondroitin sulfate A in the placental intervillous space is a major cause of low birthweight and maternal anaemia in areas of endemic P falciparum transmission. Adhesion-blocking antibodies that specifically recognise parasite-encoded variant surface antigens (VSA) are associated with resistance to pregnancy-associated malaria. We looked for a possible relation between VSA-specific antibody concentrations, placental infection, and protection from low birthweight and maternal anaemia. Hide abstract
Lancet, 363 (9415), pp. 1160. | Read more2004. WHO, the Global Fund, and medical malpractice in malaria treatment.
The selection of point mutation at codon 164 (from isoleucine to leucine) of the dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) enzyme in Plasmodium falciparum is associated with high sulfadoxine /pyrimethamine (SP) resistance. Using the yeast expression system that allows the detection of dhfr allele present at low level, the presence of this mutation had previously been reported between 1998-1999 in Muheza, Tanzania, an area of high SP resistance. Eighty five P. falciparum isolates, obtained from the same area between 2002 and 2003, were analysed for the presence of Leu-164 mutation, using standard protocol based on PCR-RFLP. None of the isolates had the Leu-164 mutation. Hide abstract
Resistance to drugs can result from changes in drug transport, and this resistance can sometimes be overcome by a second drug that modifies the transport mechanisms of the cell. This strategy has been exploited to partly reverse resistance to chloroquine in Plasmodium falciparum. Studies with human tumor cells have shown that probenecid can reverse resistance to the antifolate methotrexate, but the potential for reversal of antifolate resistance has not been studied in P. falciparum. In the present study we tested the ability of probenecid to reverse antifolate resistance in P. falciparum in vitro. Probenecid, at concentrations that had no effect on parasite viability alone (50 microM), was shown to increase the sensitivity of a highly resistant parasite isolate to the antifolates pyrimethamine, sulfadoxine, chlorcycloguanil, and dapsone by seven-, five-, three-, and threefold, respectively. The equivalent effects against an antifolate-sensitive isolate were activity enhancements of approximately 3-, 6-, 1.2-, and 19-fold, respectively. Probenecid decreased the level of uptake of radiolabeled folic acid, suggesting a transport-based mechanism linked to folate salvage. When probenecid was tested with chloroquine, it chemosensitized the resistant isolate to chloroquine (i.e., enhanced the activity of chloroquine). This enhancement of activity was associated with increased levels of chloroquine accumulation. In conclusion, we have shown that probenecid can chemosensitize malaria parasites to antifolate compounds via a mechanism linked to reduced folate uptake. Notably, this effect is observed in both folate-sensitive and -resistant parasites. In contrast to the activities of antifolate compounds, the effect of probenecid on chloroquine sensitivity was selective for chloroquine-resistant parasites (patent P407595GB [W. P. Thompson & Co., Liverpool, United Kingdom] has been filed to protect this intellectual property). Hide abstract
A study was conducted in order to determine whether children that slept under untreated bednets were protected against both malaria infection and clinical disease compared with children not sleeping under bednets. The study was conducted in Kilifi District, Kenya, during the malaria season (June-August, 2000) and involved 416 children aged < or = 10 years. Data collected from a cross-sectional survey showed evidence of protection against malaria infection among children sleeping under untreated bednets in good condition compared with those not using nets (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.4, 95% CI 0.22-0.72, P = 0.002). There was no evidence of a protective effect against infection when comparing those that used untreated bednets that were worn and those not using nets (AOR = 0.75, 95% CI 0.34-1.63, P = 0.47). When these same children were followed-up during the malaria season, there was evidence of a lower rate of clinical malaria among those that used untreated nets in good condition (adjusted incidence rate ratio = 0.65, 95% CI 0.45-0.94, P = 0.022), while the rate of clinical malaria among those that used untreated bednets that were worn was similar to that of those that did not use bednets. In the face of persistent failure of communities to take up net retreatment, there is hope that untreated nets will offer some protection against malaria infection and disease compared with not using nets at all. Hide abstract
psaA is the gene encoding pneumococcal surface adhesin A (PsaA), a 37-kDa protein expressed on the surface of Streptococcus pneumoniae. PCR primers for psaA have been shown to amplify the target DNA sequence in all 90 serotypes of S. pneumoniae and in none of 67 heterologous pathogens and colonizing bacteria of the upper respiratory tract. Pathogenic bacteria identified in lung aspirate specimens cannot normally be dismissed as contaminants or colonizers, which limit the assay specificity of other respiratory tract specimens. psaA PCR analysis was evaluated in 171 lung aspirates from Kenyan adults with acute pneumonia. The limit of detection was one genome equivalent. Sensitivity, estimated in 35 culture-positive lung aspirates, was 0.83 (95% confidence interval, 0.70 to 0.95). psaA PCR analysis extended the number of identifications of S. pneumoniae in lung aspirates from 35 on culture to 61 by both methods. Of 26 new pneumococcal diagnoses, 19 were corroborated by results of blood culture or urine antigen detection. Sequences of the PCR products from 12 positive samples were identical to the psaA target gene fragment. Using an internal control for the PCR, inhibition of psaA PCR was demonstrated in 17% (8 of 47) of false-negative specimens. The results of a control PCR for the human gene beta-actin suggested that false-negative psaA PCR results are attributable to problems of specimen collection, processing, or DNA extraction in 30% of cases (14 of 47). psaA PCR analysis is a sensitive tool for diagnosis of pneumococcal pneumonia in adults. Hide abstract
The role of volume resuscitation in severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria is controversial. Hide abstract
Cerebral malaria is commonly diagnosed in adults in endemic areas in Africa, both in hospitals and in the community. This presents a paradox inconsistent with the epidemiological understanding that the development of immunity during childhood confers protection against severe disease in adult life. Hide abstract
Br J Clin Pharmacol, 55 (5), pp. 460-463. | Read more2003. Management of severe malaria: implications for research.
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 68 (4), pp. 421-430. Read abstract2003. Ex vivo interferon-gamma immune response to thrombospondin-related adhesive protein in coastal Kenyans: longevity and risk of Plasmodium falciparum infection.
Thrombospondin-related adhesive protein (TRAP) of Plasmodium falciparum is currently being tested in human vaccine studies. However, its natural reactivity in the field remains poorly characterized. More than 40% of 217 Kenyan donors responded in an ex vivo interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay to at least one of 14 20mer peptides spanning 42% of the antigen. Reactivity was comparable from early childhood (>1 year of age) to old age, and the maximal precursor frequency of TRAP-specific cells to all 14 peptides was 1 in 4,000. Prospective follow-up for one year indicated that these low-level ex vivo responses to TRAP did not protect against the subsequent development of malaria. Retesting of selected donors after one year showed a complete change in the reactivity pattern, suggesting that malaria-specific ex vivo IFN-gamma ELISPOT assay responses are short lived in naturally exposed donors, even to conserved epitopes. This study provides important information regarding natural reactivity to a key malaria antigen. Hide abstract
The kinetics of antibody responses to the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite-induced erythrocyte surface antigens (PIESAs) in 26 Kenyan children were examined by use of flow cytometry and agglutination assays. Although 19 of the 26 children mounted a primary antibody response to PIESAs within 2 weeks of experiencing an acute episode and maintained high antibody levels for at least 12 weeks, the remaining 7 children had responses that were weak and brief. Resistance to reparasitization was decreased in the children with short-lived responses. Isotype profiles of responses in 11 of the children studied suggest that they may have failed to switch to IgG after the initial IgM response. These data suggest that children vary widely in their ability to respond to PIESAs and that, in some individuals or with certain PIESA variants, short-lived antibody responses are induced that may be associated with poor antibody class switching. Hide abstract
To identify clinical indicators of immediate, early, and late mortality in children at admission to a sub-Saharan district hospital and to develop prognostic scores. Hide abstract
Bull World Health Organ, 81 (3), pp. 166-173. Read abstract2003. Hypothetical performance of syndrome-based management of acute paediatric admissions of children aged more than 60 days in a Kenyan district hospital.
To investigate whether the outpatient, syndrome-based approach of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) protocol could be extended to the inpatient arena to give clear and simple minimum standards of care for poorly resourced facilities. Hide abstract
Interleukin-12 (IL-12) is an important regulatory cytokine in infection and immunity. Administration of IL-12 may reduce complications of severe malaria in rodents. Polymorphisms in IL12B, the gene encoding the IL-12 p40 subunit, influence the secretion of IL-12 and susceptibility to Type 1 diabetes. We therefore investigated whether IL12B polymorphisms may affect the outcome of severe malaria. Homozygosity for a polymorphism in the IL12B promoter was associated with increased mortality in Tanzanian children having cerebral malaria but not in Kenyan children with severe malaria. Furthermore, homozygotes for the IL12B promotor polymorphism had decreased production of nitric oxide, which is in part regulated by IL-12 activity. These studies suggest that IL12B polymorphisms, via regulation of IL-12 production, may influence the outcome of malaria infection in at least one African population. Hide abstract
Acute bacterial meningitis (ABM) is an important cause of mortality in Africa, but most studies are based in urban referral hospitals. Poor laboratory facilities make diagnosis difficult, and treatment is limited to inexpensive antibiotics. Hide abstract
Chlorproguanil-dapsone exerts lower resistance pressure on Plasmodium falciparum than does sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, but is rapidly eliminated. We aimed to find out whether chlorproguanil-dapsone results in a higher retreatment rate for malaria than sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. Hide abstract
We describe an age-structured mathematical model of the malaria parasite life cycle that uses clinical observations of peripheral parasitaemia to estimate population dynamics of sequestered parasites, which are hidden from the clinical investigator. First, the model was tested on parasite populations cultured in vitro, and was found to account for approximately 72% of the variation in that sub-population of parasites that would have been sequestered in vivo. Next, the model was applied to patients undergoing antimalarial therapy. Using individual data sets we found that although the model fitted the peripheral parasite curves very well, unique solutions for the fit could not be obtained; therefore, robust estimates of sequestered parasite dynamics remained unavailable. We conclude that even given detailed data on individual parasitaemia, estimates of sequestered numbers may be difficult to obtain. However, if data on individuals undergoing similar therapy are collected at equal time intervals, some of these problems may be overcome by estimating specific parameters over groups of patients. In this manner we estimated sequestered parasite density in a group of patients sampled at identical time points following antimalarial treatment. Using this approach we found significant relationships between changes in parasite density, age structure and temperature that were not apparent from the analysis of peripheral parasitaemia only. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 66 (6), pp. 692-699. Read abstract2002. Nonimmune IgM, but not IgG binds to the surface of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes and correlates with rosetting and severe malaria.
Recent work suggests that IgG and IgM from nonimmune human serum (natural antibodies) bind to the surface of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes and contribute to rosette formation by stabilizing the interaction between infected and uninfected erythrocytes. Here we show, in both laboratory clones and field isolates, that only IgM but not IgG is detected on the surface of infected cells. In field isolates, there was a strong positive correlation between IgM binding and rosette formation (Spearman's rank correlation coefficient p = 0.804, P < 0.001). Both rosette formation and IgM binding were associated with severe malaria, although statistical analysis indicates that rosette formation is the more strongly associated variable. Rosette formation, but not IgM binding, was also associated with malarial anemia. We conclude that IgM is the predominant class of natural antibodies binding to the surface of infected erythrocytes. However, we could not confirm previous suggestions that infected erythrocytes are coated with nonimmune IgG, which could lead to their interaction with host Fcgamma receptors. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 66 (5), pp. 458-460. Read abstract2002. Short report: Positive correlation between rosetting and parasitemia in Plasmodium falciparum clinical isolates.
Plasmodium falciparum isolates that form rosettes with uninfected red cells are associated with severe malaria in African children, although the mechanism by which rosetting contributes to severe disease is unknown. Here we have analyzed the relationship between rosetting and parasitemia in two samples of clinical isolates from children with malaria in Kilifi, Kenya. A consistent positive correlation was found between rosetting and parasitemia (Spearman's rank correlation coefficent p = 0.467, P < .001, n = 154, for 1993 study; p = .407, P < .001, n = 74, for 2000 study). Rosetting may enhance parasite growth and survival by facilitating invasion or promoting immune evasion, thus allowing higher parasitemia to develop and increasing the likelihood of severe malaria. Hide abstract
As reduced red cell deformability (RCD) can contribute to derangement of the microcirculation, a central feature in the pathogenesis of severe malaria, RCD was measured with a laser diffraction technique in 232 consecutive patients with falciparum malaria on the Kenyan coast, of whom 99 had severe disease. RCD on admission (measured as elongation index [EI] at shear stress = 1.7 Pa) was reduced in proportion with severity of disease (fatal outcome: EI = 0.182 (SD = 0.048), survivors from severe disease: EI = 0.217 (SD = 0.043), uncomplicated malaria: EI = 0.249 (SD = 0.030), healthy controls: EI = 0.268 (SD = 0.022). All but 2 survivors with severe malaria and rigid erythrocytes received a blood transfusion restoring RCD. Reduced RCD may contribute to impaired microcirculatory flow and a fatal outcome in falciparum malaria. RCD can be improved by blood transfusion. Since severely reduced RCD has a strong predictive value for mortality, blood transfusion possibly improves disease outcome not only through its beneficial effect on anaemia but also on RCD. Hide abstract
Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein-1 (PfEMP-1) is a variant antigen on the surface of malaria-infected red blood cells. Antibody responses to PfEMP-1 correlate with immunity, and, therefore, PfEMP-1 may be a good candidate for a malaria vaccine. However, the specificity of CD4 T cells required for a protective variant-specific antibody response is not known. We have measured the CD4 T cell response to 3 different regions that are relatively homologous among different PfEMP-1 variants. The response to the cysteine-rich interdomain region was unusual in that the majority of donors, whether malaria exposed or not, had positive CD4 T cell, interleukin-10, and interferon-gamma responses. The CD4 T cell response to the exon 2 and duffy binding-like domain proteins was significantly greater in malaria-exposed donors than in unexposed Europeans, which suggests that these regions contain peptides recognized by T cells, which thus may be useful as components of a vaccine. Hide abstract
Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a major cause of death in the tropics. The 19-kDa subunit of P. falciparum merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP-1(19)), a major blood stage vaccine candidate, is the target of cellular and humoral immune responses in animals and humans. In this phase I trial of MSP-1(19), immunization of nonexposed human volunteers with either of the two allelic forms of recombinant MSP-1(19) induced high levels of antigen-specific Th1 (gamma interferon) and Th2 (interleukin 4 [IL-4] and IL-10) type lymphokines. The adjustment of the antigen dose and number of immunizations regulated the level of specificity of immune responses and Th1/Th2 bias of responses induced by vaccination. Novel conserved and allelic T-cell epitopes which induced cross-strain immune responses were identified. Importantly, responses to many of these novel epitopes were also present in adults exposed to malaria, both in east (Kenya) and west Africa (The Gambia). These data suggest that epitope-specific naturally acquired MSP-1(19) immune responses in endemic populations can be boosted by vaccination. Hide abstract
Malaria is today a disease of poverty and underdeveloped countries. In Africa, mortality remains high because there is limited access to treatment in the villages. We should follow in Pasteur's footsteps by using basic research to develop better tools for the control and cure of malaria. Insight into the complexity of malaria pathogenesis is vital for understanding the disease and will provide a major step towards controlling it. Those of us who work on pathogenesis must widen our approach and think in terms of new tools such as vaccines to reduce disease. The inability of many countries to fund expensive campaigns and antimalarial treatment requires these tools to be highly effective and affordable. Hide abstract
In endemic areas, maternal malaria infection is usually asymptomatic. However, it is known that infected maternal erythrocytes sequester in the intervillous space of the placenta. There is a strong association between placental malaria infection and both low birth weight (LBW) and severe maternal anemia. We aimed to determine whether impaired uteroplacental blood flow might account for the low infant birth weight associated with maternal falciparum malaria infection. Hide abstract
There is longstanding evidence for a role of immunoglobulin (Ig)G in protection against malarial disease and infection. IgG1 and IgG3 have been shown to be particularly efficient at associating with monocytes in potentially protective mechanisms (i.e. antibody-dependent cellular inhibition, opsonization and phagocytosis). Conversely, there is some evidence that IgG2 (and possibly IgG4) antibodies may be antagonistic to this protection. The protective effect of IgG subclass antibody activity present before the beginning of a malaria transmission season (preseason antibody levels) against severe malaria has not been tested in longitudinal studies. We measured IgG class and subclass antibody levels specific to crude Plasmodium falciparum lysates by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay in a case-control study of 76 children on the coast of Kenya. The mean optical density values for both IgG class and subclass antibodies were not significantly different between the children who developed severe malaria and those who remained healthy during an observation period of two malaria transmission seasons. However, elevated levels of IgG1 in relation to levels of IgG2 and IgG4 antibodies were associated with protection from severe malaria (P = 0.02). Conversely, elevated levels of IgG2 in relation to IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies were associated with a higher risk of developing severe malaria (P = 0.006). Hide abstract
Plasmodium falciparum, the most virulent species of human malaria parasite, causes 1-3 million deaths per year. Because this parasite is susceptible to naturally acquired host immunity the main burden of diseases falls on young children. The mechanism of this immunity is still unclear. However, the parasite makes a considerable investment in the insertion of highly polymorphic antigens (parasite-infected-erythrocyte surface antigens, PIESA) on the infected erythrocyte surface, and these antigens are potentially important immune targets. Hide abstract
Because of the breakdown of malaria control programs, the constant emergence of drug resistant parasites, and, possibly, climatic changes malaria poses a major problem for the developing countries. In addition, because of the speed of international travel it is being seen with increasing frequency as an imported disease in non-tropical countries. This update explores recent information about the pathophysiology of the disease, its protean hematological manifestations, and how carrier frequencies for the common hemoglobin disorders have been maintained by relative resistance to the malarial parasite. In Section I, Dr. Louis Miller and colleagues consider recent information about the pathophysiology of malarial infection, including new information about interactions between the malarial parasite and vascular endothelium. In Section II, Dr. David Roberts discusses what is known about the complex interactions between red cell production and destruction that characterize the anemia of malaria, one of the commonest causes of anemia in tropical countries. In Section III, Dr. David Weatherall reviews recent studies on how the high gene frequencies of the thalassemias and hemoglobin variants have been maintained by heterozygote advantage against malaria and how malaria has shaped the genetic structure of human populations. Hide abstract
Convulsions are a common complication of severe malaria in children and are associated with poor outcome. Diazepam is used to terminate convulsions but its pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics have not been studied in this group. Accordingly, we carried out a comparative study of the pharmacokinetics of intravenous (i.v.) and rectal (p.r.) diazepam. Hide abstract
Malaria transmission intensity in Africa varies over several log orders, from less than one infected bite per year to more than one thousand. In this review we examine the consequences in terms of age pattern, clinical spectrum and overall burden of disease and discuss the possible implications for interventions that reduce exposure to infected bites. With very low transmission intensity, all age groups are susceptible to severe malaria. With increasing transmission intensities, older children and adults suffer less severe disease and with high transmission rates the majority of severe cases occur in infants under one year of age. This pattern reflects the increasingly rapid acquisition of immune responses that limit the life-threatening effects of malaria with increasing exposure to the parasite. The clinical spectrum of severe malaria varies with transmission: with high transmission, severe malarial anaemia dominates and cerebral malaria is rare. As one moves towards lower transmission rates, cerebral malaria accounts for an increasingly large proportion of cases. Although the population risk of severe disease falls with age, the risk of death at an individual level may rise with age after an initial fall from very high case fatality rates in children aged under 6 months. Of central interest to malaria control is how the overall amount of disease in childhood varies with transmission. Data from a number of sources suggest that, with low transmission, the amount of malarial disease rises with increasing exposure but that this saturates relatively early. A key issue is whether the same pattern obtains for deaths, both those directly due to malaria and those from all causes. The methodological limitations of ecological comparisons between different areas are discussed before presenting a review of attempts to use this approach in Africa. This suggests that children living in areas of low malarial endemicity have all-cause mortality rates about half of those of children living in areas of moderate to high transmission. Deaths in the first year of life rise linearly with increasing exposure to malaria over a wide range of transmission intensities; by contrast all-cause mortality in children aged 0-4 years appears to saturate at relatively low transmission intensities. These data suggest that interventions that reduce exposure to malaria parasites, such as insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs), will have the greatest chance of a sustained effect when used in areas where disease burdens are high but the frequency of parasite exposure is low-to-moderate. In conditions of high transmission, initial reductions in mortality may prove difficult to sustain as the reduced level of transmission may still lie on the part of the curve where mortality has saturated. However, at all levels of transmission the overall balance of benefits, including reduced load on families and health services from non-life-threatening malaria, favours the widespread introduction of ITNs in endemic areas of Africa. Hide abstract
During the past few years, there has been a historic series of declarations of renewed commitment to malaria control in Africa. Whether the burden of malaria is increasing in Africa is a moot point. This article attempts to re-construct the evidence for the trends in childhood mortality as a result of Plasmodium falciparum infection over the last century in Africa. Hide abstract
LANCET, 358 (9292), pp. 1549-1550. | Read more2001. Diagnosis of bacterial meningitis - Reply
The importance of dendritic cells (DCs) for the initiation and regulation of immune responses not only to foreign organisms but also to the self has raised considerable interest in the qualitative and quantitative analysis of these cells in various human diseases. Plasmodium falciparum malaria is characterized by the poor induction of long-lasting protective immune responses. This study, therefore, investigated the percentage of peripheral blood DCs as lineage marker-negative and HLA-DR(+) or CD83(+) cells in healthy children and in children suffering from acute malaria in Kilifi, Kenya. Comparable percentages of CD83(+) DCs were found in peripheral blood of healthy children and children with malaria. However, the percentage of HLA-DR(+) peripheral blood DCs was significantly reduced in children with malaria. The results suggest that a proportion of peripheral blood DCs may be functionally impaired due to the low expression of HLA-DR on their surface. Hide abstract
In areas of endemic transmission, malaria in pregnancy is associated with severe maternal anaemia and low birthweight babies. The prevalence of infection is highest in primigravidae (PG), and hence control efforts are usually geared towards this high risk group. Using a sensitive measure of placental infection, we investigated the relationship between active-acute, active-chronic and past placental infection with maternal anaemia and low birthweight in women of all gravidities. Hide abstract
LANCET, 358 (9285), pp. 927-928. | Read more2001. A non-sense mutation and protection from severe malaria - Reply
The sequestration of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes (pRBC) away from the peripheral circulation is a property of all field isolates. Here we have examined the pRBC of 111 fresh clinical isolates from children with malaria for a number of adhesive features in order to study their possible coexpression and association with severity of disease. A large number of adhesion assays were performed studying rosetting, giant rosetting, and binding to CD36, intercellular adhesion molecule 1, platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule 1, thrombospondin, heparin, blood group A, and immunoglobulins. Suspension assays were performed at the actual parasitemia of the isolate, while all the static adhesion assays were carried out at an equal adjusted parasitemia. The ability to bind to multiple receptors, as well as the ability to form rosettes and giant rosettes, was found to be more frequent among isolates from children with severe versus mild malaria (P = 0.0015). Rosettes and giant rosettes were more frequent for children with severe malaria, and the cell aggregates were larger and tighter, than for those with mild disease (P = 0.0023). Binding of immunoglobulins (97% of isolates) and of heparin (81% of isolates) to infected erythrocytes was common, and binding to heparin and blood group A was associated with severity of disease (P = 0.011 and P = 0.031, respectively). These results support the idea that isolates that bind to multiple receptors are involved in the causation of severe malaria and that several receptor-ligand interactions work synergistically in bringing about severe disease. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 65 (1), pp. 47-51. Read abstract2001. Binding of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes to soluble platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1/CD31): frequent recognition by clinical isolates.
Platelet-endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 or CD31 (PECAM-1/CD31) is a receptor recognized by Plasmodium falciparum-parasitized erythrocytes (pRBCs). Fluorescence-labeled soluble recombinant PECAM-1/CD31 (sPECAM-1/CD31) is shown to bind to the surface of P. falciparum-infected erythrocytes on up to 70% of the cells. Binding is blocked by the addition of the unlabeled receptor in a dose-dependent fashion, but not by unrelated receptor-proteins. A significant correlation was found between the binding of sPECAM-1/CD31 to pRBCs and the binding to transfected L cells expressing the receptor as seen with six different P. falciparum lines or clones. Panning of cultures on PECAM-1/CD31 transfected L cells was paralleled by an increase in the binding of sPECAM-1/CD31. The pRBCs of 54% of fresh patient-isolates bound sPECAM-1/CD31 with a mean rate of 12.9% (range = 1.1-44%). The data suggest that PECAM-1/CD31 is a common receptor recognized by wild isolates and that the soluble PECAM-1/CD31 suspension assay is a sensitive and reliable way to study PECAM-1/CD31 binding. Hide abstract
The diagnosis of acute bacterial meningitis in children is difficult in sub-Saharan Africa, because the clinical features overlap with those of other common diseases, and laboratory facilities are inadequate in many areas. We have assessed the value of non-laboratory tests and incomplete laboratory data in diagnosing childhood acute bacterial meningitis in this setting. Hide abstract
We sought genetic evidence for the importance of host-parasite interactions involving CD36 in severe malaria. We identified a non-sense mutation in Cd36 gene and looked at the influence of this mutation on the outcome of malaria infection in 693 African children with severe malaria and a similar number of ethnically matched controls. We showed that heterozygosity for this mutation is associated with protection from severe disease (OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.55-0.99; p=0.036). These findings suggest that this Cd36 mutation might have a complex effect on malaria infection by decreasing parasite sequestration, and also by decreasing host immune responses. Hide abstract
Anaemia causes significant morbidity in children with Plasmodium falciparum malaria, but the mechanism(s) are unclear. During malarial infection, increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated that may contribute to erythrocyte damage and anaemia. This study measured the concentrations of alpha-tocopherol in plasma and erythrocyte membranes, and the percentage polyunsaturated fatty acid composition (%PUFA) (an indirect marker of ROS damage) in erythrocyte membranes in children with severe P. falciparum malaria from Kilifi, Kenya, and asymptomatic children from the same district. Malarial subjects were stratified into complicated malaria and malaria anaemia. Results demonstrated significant reductions in erythrocyte membrane alpha-tocopherol concentration (1.63 +/- 0.16 versus 3.38 +/- 0.18 micromol/mg protein; P < 0.001) and total %PUFA (30.7 +/- 0.49 versus 32.8 +/- 0.44% P < 0.005) for the malarial subjects (non-stratified) compared with controls. Malarial subjects showed a significant positive correlation between membrane alpha-tocopherol and haemoglobin concentrations (P < 0.005 r = 0.63 complicated malaria group; P < 0.05 r = 0.36 non-stratified data). There were no significant differences in plasma alpha-tocopherol concentration between malaria patients and controls. In conclusion, malarial infection may be associated with oxidative damage and reduced alpha-tocopherol reserve in the erythrocyte membrane, suggesting that local antioxidant depletion may contribute to erythrocyte loss in severe malaria. Erythrocyte membrane alpha-tocopherol appeared a better indicator of ROS exposure than plasma. Hide abstract
Severe anaemia in pregnancy is an important preventable cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. Different methods of screening for severe anaemia in pregnancy were evaluated in a 2-phased study conducted in Kilifi, Kenya. In phase 1 (in 1994/95), pallor testing was evaluated alone and in addition to raised respiratory/pulse rates: 1787 pregnant women were examined by one of 2 midwives. Sensitivities for detecting severe anaemia (haemoglobin < 7 g/dL) were 62% and 69% and specificities 87% and 77%, respectively for each of the midwives. Addition of high pulse rate increased sensitivity to 77% and 81%, but specificity reduced to 60% and 51%, respectively. In phase 2, following qualitative in-depth work, a screening questionnaire was developed. An algorithm based on screening questions had 80% sensitivity and 40% specificity. Midwife pallor-assessment was conducted following the screening questionnaire. In this phase (conducted in 1997), the midwife performed very highly in detecting severe anaemia, achieving sensitivity of 84% and specificity of 92%. Spending a few minutes asking women questions may have improved the ability to interpret pallor findings. This study demonstrates the value of pallor testing and raises alternative approaches to improving it. Hide abstract
J Trop Pediatr, 47 (2), pp. 108-110. Read abstract2001. Outcome of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in hospitalized African children.
The outcome of cardiopulmonary resuscitation at the research ward of the Kenya Medical Research Institute is reviewed. The outcome for respiratory arrest was 15 per cent (95 per cent CI 6.6-27) to discharge, and worse for cardiorespiratory arrest with no survival. The illnesses leading to cardiopulmonary arrest and causes for the disappointing outcome are discussed. Hide abstract
Seizures are a prominent feature of childhood cerebral malaria, and are associated with an increased risk of death and neurological sequelae. We present the electroencephalographic (EEG) findings from a detailed clinical and electrophysiological study. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 64 (3-4), pp. 194-203. Read abstract2001. Identification of frequently recognized dimorphic T-cell epitopes in plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein-1 in West and East Africans: lack of correlation of immune recognition and allelic prevalence.
The merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP1) is the most studied malaria blood-stage vaccine candidate. Lymphokines such as interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) and interleukin 4 (IL-4) may mediate blood-stage specific protection. Here we identify Plasmodiumfalciparum MSP1 T-cell epitopes capable of rapid induction of IFN-gamma and/or IL-4 from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of East and West African donors. Both allelic forms of these novel MSP1 T-cell epitopes were stimulatory. An unusually high numbers of Gambian responders (> 80%) to these epitopes were observed, suggesting that MSPI reactivity may have been underestimated previously in this population. Surprisingly, IFN-gamma responses to allelic T-cell epitopes failed to correlate with differential antigenic exposure in The Gambia compared to Kenya. These results suggest an unexpected level of immunoregulation of IFN-gamma response with variable allelic T-cell reactivity independent of the level of antigenic exposure. Further analysis of the mechanisms determining this response pattern may be required if vaccines are to overcome this allelic reactivity bias in malaria-exposed populations. Hide abstract
Sequestration of malaria-infected erythrocytes in the peripheral circulation has been associated with the virulence of Plasmodium falciparum. Defining the adhesive phenotypes of infected erythrocytes may therefore help us to understand how severe disease is caused and how to prevent or treat it. We have previously shown that malaria-infected erythrocytes may form apparent autoagglutinates of infected erythrocytes. Here we show that such autoagglutination of a laboratory line of P. falciparum is mediated by platelets and that the formation of clumps of infected erythrocytes and platelets requires expression of the platelet surface glycoprotein CD36. Platelet-dependent clumping is a distinct adhesive phenotype, expressed by some but not all CD36-binding parasite lines, and is common in field isolates of P. falciparum. Finally, we have established that platelet-mediated clumping is strongly associated with severe malaria. Precise definition of the molecular basis of this intriguing adhesive phenotype may help to elucidate the complex pathophysiology of malaria. Hide abstract
Comparisons of immunoglobulin G (IgG) subclass responses to the major polymorphic region and to a conserved region of MSP-1 in three cohorts of African villagers exposed to Plasmodium falciparum revealed that responses to Block 2 are predominantly IgG3 whereas antibodies to MSP-1(19) are mainly IgG1. The striking dominance of IgG3 to Block 2 may explain the short duration of this response and also the requirement for continuous stimulation by malaria infection to maintain clinical immunity. Hide abstract
Lancet, 358 (9285), pp. 927-928. | Read more2001. A non-sense mutation and protection from severe malaria.
There are a number of case reports in the medical literature suggesting an association between the ingestion of chloroquine and subsequent seizure activity. Our study was designed to investigate the relationship between blood levels of chloroquine (CQ), its metabolite desethylchloroquine (DCQ), and seizures in children admitted to hospital with cerebral malaria. Hide abstract
J Immunol, 165 (11), pp. 6341-6346. Read abstract2000. Mapping of the region of complement receptor (CR) 1 required for Plasmodium falciparum rosetting and demonstration of the importance of CR1 in rosetting in field isolates.
The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum induces a number of novel adhesion properties in the erythrocytes that it infects. One of these properties, the ability of infected erythrocytes to bind uninfected erythrocytes to form rosettes, is associated with severe malaria and may play a direct role in the pathogenesis of disease. Previous work has shown that erythrocytes deficient in complement receptor (CR) 1 (CR1, CD35; C3b/C4b receptor) have greatly reduced rosetting capacity, indicating an essential role for CR1 in rosette formation. Using deletion mutants and mAbs, we have localized the region of CR1 required for the formation of P. falciparum rosettes to the area of long homologous repeat regions B and C that also acts as the binding site for the activated complement component C3b. This result raises the possibility that C3b could be an intermediary in rosetting, bridging between the infected erythrocyte and CR1. We were able to exclude this hypothesis, however, as parasites grown in C3-deficient human serum formed rosettes normally. We have also shown in this report that rosettes can be reversed by mAb J3B11 that recognizes the C3b binding site of CR1. This rosette-reversing activity was demonstrated in a range of laboratory-adapted parasite strains and field isolates from Kenya and Malawi. Thus, we have mapped the region of CR1 required for rosetting and demonstrated that the CR1-dependent rosetting mechanism occurs commonly in P. falciparum isolates, and could therefore be a potential target for future therapeutic interventions to treat severe malaria. Hide abstract
Malaria is a problem of global importance, responsible for 1-2 million deaths per year, mainly in African children, as well as considerable morbidity manifested as severe anaemia and encephalopathy in young children. Fundamental to the development of new tools for malaria control in humans is an increased understanding of key features of malaria infection, such as the diversity of outcome in different individuals, the understanding of different manifestations of the disease and of the mechanisms of immunity that allow clinical protection in the face of ongoing low-grade infection (concomitant immunity or premunition). Here, Graham Brown and colleagues review some of the ways in which molecular approaches might be used to increase our understanding of the epidemiology and clinical manifestations of malaria, as discussed at the Molecular Approaches to Malaria conference (MAM2000), Lorne, Australia, 2-5 February 2000. Hide abstract
LANCET, 356 (9225), pp. 256-257. | Read more2000. Phenobarbital for children with cerebral malaria - Reply
The district general hospital (DGH) is a common feature of health service provision in many developing countries. We have used linked demographic and clinical surveillance in a rural community located close to a DGH on the Kenyan coast to define the use and public health significance of essential clinical services provided by it. Of a birth cohort of over 4000 children followed for approximately 6 years, about a third were admitted to hospital at least once. Significantly more children admitted with major infectious diseases such as malaria and acute respiratory tract infections were readmitted with the same condition during the surveillance period than would have been expected by chance. Among surviving admissions, mortality post-discharge was significantly higher than in the cohort which had not been admitted within 3, 6 and 12 months. Most of the patients who died after discharge had been admitted with a diagnosis of gastroenteritis. Most children admitted to the DGH survive hospitalization and the remaining period of childhood. Despite no clinical trial evidence to support the claim, it seems reasonable to assume that in the absence of intensive clinical management provided by a DGH, a significant proportion of these children would not have survived. However, the DGH is able to define a group of at-risk children who re-present with severe complications of infectious disease, and of these several may have underlying conditions not amenable to DGH intervention and continue to have a poor prognosis. Both groups of children represent statistically significant subsets of a rural paediatric community and the future organization and co-ordination of DGH and primary care services need to work in unison to strengthen the service needs of children at risk. Hide abstract
Red blood cells infected with Plasmodium falciparum can adhere to each other and so form large autoagglutinates. We show that this phenotype is common in field isolates and is strongly associated with severe malaria. Hide abstract
Despite a substantial disease burden, there is little descriptive epidemiology of acute pneumonia in sub-Saharan Africa. We did this study to define the aetiology of acute pneumonia, to estimate mortality at convalescence, and to analyse mortality risk-factors. Hide abstract
Seizures commonly complicate cerebral malaria and are associated with an increased risk of death and neurological sequelae. We undertook a randomised study to assess the efficacy of intramuscular phenobarbital in preventing seizures in childhood cerebral malaria. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 62 (2), pp. 284-290. Read abstract2000. Cerebrospinal fluid studies in children with cerebral malaria: an excitotoxic mechanism?
The pathogenesis of cerebral malaria is poorly understood. One hypothesis is that activation of microglia and astrocytes in the brain might cause the cerebral symptoms by excitotoxic mechanisms. Cerebrospinal fluid was sampled in 97 Kenyan children with cerebral malaria, 85% within 48 hr of admission. When compared with an age-matched reference range, there were large increases in concentrations of the excitotoxin quinolinic acid (geometric mean ratio cerebral malaria/reference population [95% confidence limits] = 14.1 [9.8-20.4], P < 0.001) and total neopterin (10.9 [9.1-13.0], P < 0.001) and lesser increases in tetra-hydrobiopterin, di-hydrobiopterin, and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid. There was no change in tryptophan concentration. In contrast, nitrate plus nitrite concentrations were decreased (geometric mean ratio = 0.45 [0.35-0.59], P < 0.001). There was a graded increment in quinolinic acid concentration across outcome groups of increasing severity. The increased concentration of quinolinic acid suggests that excitotoxic mechanisms may contribute to the pathogenesis of cerebral malaria. Hide abstract
Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 94 Suppl 1 (SUPPL. 1), pp. S1-90.2000. Severe falciparum malaria. World Health Organization, Communicable Diseases Cluster.
Although cerebral malaria is the most common acute encephalopathy arising in children in Africa little is known of its effect upon the longer-term cognitive development of survivors. In Kenya, we compared the performance of 87 survivors of severe malaria with impaired consciousness to matched community controls on a wide range of tasks, not less than 42 months post illness episode. The presence of cognitive impairment was then related to both the pattern of symptoms at the time of the acute illness and the presence of gross neurological impairment on discharge. Significant group differences were found in areas of cognitive functioning suggestive of widespread impairment in the development of the ability to initiate, plan and carry out tasks (the executive functions). On tasks of more discrete cognitive skills (information processing) there were no significant group differences, although impaired performance was found more frequently in the severe malaria group. The odds ratio associated with the development of cognitive impairment following severe malaria with impaired consciousness was found to be 4.48 (95% CI 1.22, 16.47). A combination of 4 signs (coma, hypoglycaemia, seizures, and absence of hyperpyrexia) proved to have greater accuracy than the presence of gross neurological sequelae in predicting cognitive impairment (95% vs 93% specificity, 67% vs 58% sensitivity). Hide abstract
Parassitologia, 41 (1-3), pp. 241-246. Read abstract1999. Malaria transmission and morbidity.
Stable malaria endemicity is maintained over a wide range of transmission intensities in sub-Saharan Africa. This paper considers variations in the clinical manifestations and their consequences with differences in transmission intensity. Epidemiological approaches to malarial disease have concentrated on two clinical syndromes, severe malarial anaemia and cerebral malaria. Within an area the mean age of children with severe malarial anaemia is always lower than that of those with cerebral malaria. In areas of higher malaria transmission children, on average, encounter malaria at a younger age and the mean age of clinical cases is lower. Malarial anaemia tends therefore to be relatively more important under high transmission settings and cerebral malaria tends to gain in importance under lower transmission settings. In a number of studies the total load of malaria morbidity, whether measured as none severe malaria in the community or as severe malaria admitted to hospital, is low under stable low transmission conditions but is at its highest under moderate intensities of transmission. Thereafter it reaches a plateau, or even falls, at the highest transmission intensities. It is not known whether the same is true for mortality in communities living under different transmission settings. Possible implications for changes in patterns of morbidity and mortality following interventions which lower malaria transmission are discussed. It is concluded that such interventions should play an important role in integrated malaria control programmes but that these should involve concomitant introduction of other interventions, in order to minimise the possible risks of a reduced effect as the immune response of the population re-equilibrates in the face of reduced challenge. Hide abstract
Lancet, 353 (9168), pp. 1965-1967. | Read more1999. Averting a malaria disaster.
Genetic variation in cytokine promoter regions is postulated to influence susceptibility to infection, but the molecular mechanisms by which such polymorphisms might affect gene regulation are unknown. Through systematic DNA footprinting of the TNF (encoding tumour necrosis factor, TNF) promoter region, we have identified a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) that causes the helix-turn-helix transcription factor OCT-1 to bind to a novel region of complex protein-DNA interactions and alters gene expression in human monocytes. The OCT-1-binding genotype, found in approximately 5% of Africans, is associated with fourfold increased susceptibility to cerebral malaria in large case-control studies of West African and East African populations, after correction for other known TNF polymorphisms and linked HLA alleles. Hide abstract
Bacteraemia associated with severe malaria in childhood is a sporadically reported phenomenon but its incidence and clinical importance are unknown. We have reviewed clinical and laboratory data from 783 Kenyan children sequentially admitted with a primary diagnosis of severe malaria. The overall incidence of bacteraemia in children with severe malaria was 7.8% (95% CI 5.5-10.0); however, in children under 30 months of age the incidence was 12.0% (95% CI 8.3-15.7). The presence of bacteraemia was associated with a 3-fold increase in mortality (33.3% vs. 10.4%, P < 0.001). We conclude that invasive bacterial disease may contribute to the pathophysiology of the clinical syndrome of severe malaria in an important subgroup of children. We recommend that young children with severe malaria be treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics in addition to antimalarial drugs. Hide abstract
Malaria control in Africa relies primarily on early effective treatment for clinical disease, but most early treatments for fever occur through self-medication with shop-bought drugs. Lack of information to community members on over-the-counter drug use has led to widespread ineffective treatment of fevers, increased risks of drug toxicity and accelerating drug resistance. We examined the feasibility and measured the likely impact of training shop keepers in rural Africa on community drug use. Hide abstract
Intestinal nematode infections are recognized as a major public health problem, and helminth control is currently being directed towards school-aged children who are known to harbour the heaviest infections and are most likely to suffer from associated morbidity. However, few data are available for the epidemiology of intestinal nematodes in pre-school children in Africa, and the contribution of hookworm infection to the aetiology and severity of anaemia among pre-school children remains poorly understood. This paper investigates the epidemiology of parasitic infections in 460 pre-school children who were part of a larger case-control study of severe malaria in Kilifi on the Kenyan coast. Almost one-third (28.7%) were infected with hookworm, 20.2% with Ascaris lumbricoides and 15.0% with Trichuris trichiura. Infection prevalence of each species rose with age, and the prevalence of heavy infection with hookworm and mean intensity of hookworm were markedly age-dependent. One-third (34.3%) of children had malaria. Overall, 76.3% of children were anaemic (haemoglobin < 110 g/L), with the prevalence decreasing with age. Anaemia was significantly worst in children with heavy hookworm infection (> 200 eggs per gram). This relationship held for all ages, both sexes, and was independent of socioeconomic factors. The application of attributable morbidity methods confirmed the contribution of hookworm infection to anaemia. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 60 (5), pp. 781-785. Read abstract1999. Vector-related case-control study of severe malaria in Kilifi District, Kenya.
A case-control study examined vector-related and environmental parameters associated with severe malaria in Kilifi District along the coast of Kenya. Over an 11-month period, 119 children identified with severe malaria infections at the Kilifi District Hospital were matched by age with control children who reported to the outpatient clinic with nonsevere infections. Intensive mosquito sampling was done in each of the case-control houses over a four-day period, beginning within a week of index case admission. A total of 109 environmental, demographic, behavioral, and animal husbandry variables were characterized for each household. Vector species (Anopheles gambiae s.l. and An. funestus) were detected in 40.1% and 36.1% of case and control houses, respectively. The relative abundance of vectors in individual houses was stable over the two-week resampling periods (r = 0.9). Both the overall abundance of anopheline mosquitoes (odds ratio [OR] = 1.5) and P. falciparum sporozoite rates (OR = 1.5) were not significantly different between case and control houses. In a matched analysis, 11 of 109 house variables associated significantly with severe malaria were also associated with vector abundance, as determined by chi-square linear trend analysis. Under conditions of year-round, low-level transmission on the coast of Kenya, the risk of severe disease in children is multifactorial and not governed strictly by transmission intensity or environmental heterogeneity affecting vector abundance and distributions. This suggests that current interventions that appear to be achievable only in areas where transmission is already low to moderate should be appropriate. However, such interventions should be monitored so that inappropriate and possibly disastrous control activities can be avoided in Africa. Hide abstract
Cerebral malaria (CM) and acute bacterial meningitis (ABM) are the two common causes of impaired consciousness in children presenting to hospital in sub-Sahara Africa. Since the clinical features of the two diseases may be very similar, treatment is often guided by the initial laboratory findings. However, no detailed studies have examined the extent to which the laboratory findings in these two diseases may overlap. We reviewed data from 555 children with impaired consciousness admitted to Kilifi District Hospital, Kenya. Strictly defined groups were established based on the malaria slide, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leucocyte count and the results of blood and CSF culture and CSF bacterial antigen testing. Our data suggests significant overlap in the initial CSF findings between CM and ABM. The absolute minimum proportions of children with impaired consciousness and malaria parasitaemia who also had definite bacterial meningitis were 4% of all children and 14% of children under 1 year of age. The estimated maximum proportion of all children with impaired consciousness and malaria parasitaemia in whom the diagnosis was dual or unclear was at least 13%. The finding of malaria parasites in the blood of an unconscious child in sub-Saharan Africa is not sufficient to establish a diagnosis of cerebral malaria, and acute bacterial meningitis must be actively excluded in all cases. Hide abstract
In areas of stable transmission, clinical immunity to mild malaria is acquired slowly, so it is not usually effective until early adolescence. Life-threatening disease is, however, restricted to a much younger age group, indicating that resistance to the severe clinical consequences of infection is acquired more quickly. Understanding how rapidly immunity develops to severe malaria is essential, as severe malaria should be the primary target of intervention strategies, and predicting the result of interventions that reduce host exposure will require consideration of these dynamics. Severe disease in childhood is less frequent in areas where transmission is the greatest. One explanation for this is that infants experience increased exposure to infection while they are protected from disease, possibly by maternal antibody. They therefore emerge from this period of clinical protection with considerably more immunity than those who experience lower transmission intensities. Here we use this data, assuming a period of clinical protection, to estimate the number of prior infections needed to reduce the risk of severe disease to negligible levels. Contrary to expectations, one or two successful infective bites seem to be all that is necessary across a broad range of transmission intensities. Hide abstract
In areas of endemic transmission, malaria in pregnancy is associated with severe maternal anaemia and low-birthweight babies. We studied the efficacy of intermittent treatment doses of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine in preventing malaria and severe anaemia in pregnancy in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial among primigravid women living in Kilifi District, Kenya. Hide abstract
Infect Immun, 67 (2), pp. 733-739. Read abstract1999. Antibody recognition of Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte surface antigens in Kenya: evidence for rare and prevalent variants.
Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) is the name given to a family of parasite proteins that are inserted into the infected erythrocyte surface. Studies using agglutination assays have shown previously that PfEMP1 epitopes are extremely diverse. In a study in Kenya, 21 parasite isolates, including nine from children with severe malaria, were tested for agglutination by 33 pairs of plasma, 21 of which were from the corresponding children. Each plasma pair consisted of a sample taken at the time of disease (acute) and one taken 3 weeks later (convalescent). In agreement with previous studies, infection was generally followed by the induction of antibodies specific to the homologous parasite isolate. In addition however, the results show that (i) some isolates were agglutinated very frequently by heterologous plasma; (ii) unexpectedly, these frequently agglutinated isolates tended to be from individuals with severe malaria; (iii) an inverse relationship existed between the agglutination frequency of each parasite isolate in heterologous plasma and the agglutinating antibody repertoire of the homologous child at the time of disease; and (iv) A 3-month-old child apparently still carrying maternal antibodies was infected by a rarely agglutinated isolate. This child's plasma agglutinated all isolates at the time of disease, apart from the homologous isolate. These results support the idea that preexisting anti-PfEMP1 antibodies can select the variants that are expressed during a new infection and may suggest the existence of a dominant subset of PfEMP1 variants. Hide abstract
Ocular fundus pathology in Plasmodium falciparum malaria is common and has prognostic significance. We have made a collaborative effort to document the ocular features in several populations. Based on examination of 735 patients in Malawi, Kenya and The Gambia by direct and indirect ophthalmoscopy with dilated pupils, we have determined that the 5 distinct clinical features (in order of frequency) include retinal whitening, haemorrhages, unique vessel abnormalities, papilloedema, and cotton wool spots. Photographs and descriptions of these are presented, along with a proposed grading scheme. Hide abstract
Bull World Health Organ, 77 (8), pp. 624-640. Read abstract1999. Estimating mortality, morbidity and disability due to malaria among Africa's non-pregnant population.
The contribution of malaria to morbidity and mortality among people in Africa has been a subject of academic interest, political advocacy, and speculation. National statistics for much of sub-Saharan Africa have proved to be an unreliable source of disease-specific morbidity and mortality data. Credible estimates of disease-specific burdens are required for setting global and national priorities for health in order to rationalize the use of limited resources and lobby for financial support. We have taken an empirical approach to defining the limits of Plasmodium falciparum transmission across the continent and interpolated the distributions of projected populations in 1995. By combining a review of the literature on malaria in Africa and models of acquired functional immunity, we have estimated the age-structured rates of the fatal, morbid and disabling sequelae following exposure to malaria infection under different epidemiological conditions. Hide abstract
As surveillance data from sub-Saharan Africa are few, three representative populations of Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates were examined in Kenya for serotype distribution and Etest minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of benzylpenicillin: (1) 75 lung aspirate or blood culture isolates from 301 consecutive adult patients with pneumonia, (2) 112 invasive isolates from continuous pediatric inpatient surveillance over 4 years, and (3) 97 nasopharyngeal isolates from systematically selected sick children. The proportions with benzylpenicillin MICs of > or = 0.1 microgram/mL were 0.27, 0.29, and 0.47, respectively. Vaccine-related serotypes accounted for 96% of invasive isolates from children and 90% of those from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-seropositive adults. Serotype 1 accounted for 44% of pneumococci from HIV-seronegative patients but only 5% of those from HIV-seropositive patients (P = .0002). Of serotype 1 isolates, 98% were susceptible to benzylpenicillin, but serogroups 13, 14, 19, and 23 were strongly associated with an MIC of > or = 0.1 microgram/mL. Hide abstract
Chloroquine resistance is spreading across Africa. Trape et al. examined mortality patterns in 3 areas of Senegal over a period of 11 years, during which chloroquine resistance first emerged there. There has been a considerable increase in malaria-specific mortality in all 3 areas, areas which differ in levels of malaria endemicity and health care provision. In each case, the increase began when chloroquine resistance was first noted. The risk of death from malaria in 2 of the areas more than doubled, while in the 3rd area, Mlomp, a moderate transmission area with unusually good health care, the risk of malaria mortality among children under age 5 years rose 8-fold. Trape et al. attribute these increases in mortality exclusively to chloroquine resistance. These data demonstrate that chloroquine resistance is already a problem in West Africa, while other epidemiologists believe that malaria mortality is also on the rise in East Africa. Guidelines are needed on the levels of resistance at which countries should consider a switch to alternate first-line drugs. The data also indicate that case treatment is central to controlling malaria in Africa. Effective, affordable drugs capable of delaying the onset of resistance need to be used particularly where the core of the problem is, in rural communities with minimum access to health facilities. Hide abstract
Several malariometric studies have examined the impact on human-vector contact of house construction, demographics, bed net and insect repellent use. However, few studies have documented the significance of these proximate determinants on the risks of clinical disease. We undertook a matched case-control study of the risks of both mild clinical malaria and severe life-threatening malaria according to a range of putative factors which would influence the frequency of child-vector encounters in Kilifi district on the Kenyan coast. Among 394 severe disease cases, 380 age-matched mild disease cases, and their respective location and age-matched community controls, we were unable to demonstrate any statistically significant effect upon disease outcome of house construction, presence of domestic animals, or bed net use. Higher population density within a 250 m radius of the homes conferred significant protection from the risks of developing severe malaria compared to community controls. The risks of developing severe malaria compared to the community controls and the transition from mild to severe disease were statistically significantly lower in those who reported use of mosquito coils, local repellents or aerosol insecticides. We concluded that it is likely that the impact of household features on disease outcome is dependent upon both the density of infecting mosquitoes and acquired immunity within a given locality. Hide abstract
MOLECULAR AND BIOCHEMICAL PARASITOLOGY, 93 (1), pp. 159-159.1998. Genomic representation of var gene sequences in Plasmodium falciparum field isolates from different geographic regions (vol 87, pg 235, 1997)
Of 295 children with cerebral malaria, 117 (40%) had an abnormal respiratory pattern; 15 children exhibited more than one pattern during their clinical course. Four distinct patterns were seen. (i) Deep breathing (80 children); this was associated with severe metabolic acidosis, and resolved following treatment with intravenous fluids and/or blood. (ii) Hypoventilation with nystagmus and salivation (18 children); simultaneous electroencephalographic recording revealed continuous electrical seizure activity, demonstrating that these children were in subtle status epilepticus; anticonvulsant treatment resulted in return to normal of blood gases and recovery of consciousness. (iii) Hyperventilation with extensor posturing (20 children), which was associated with varying degrees of intracranial hypertension. (iv) Periodic respiration (14 children); all had clinical features suggestive of transtentorial herniation, and died following a respiratory arrest. Abnormal respiratory patterns can alert the clinician to complications of cerebral malaria that require treatment. Recognition of these patterns and rapid initiation of appropriate supportive therapy may help to reduce the high mortality rate of this disease. Hide abstract
Although malaria is known to be a major cause of child mortality and morbidity throughout sub-Saharan Africa there are few detailed studies of malaria mortality rates and incidence of severe malarial disease in defined communities. We have studied the geographical pattern of admissions to hospital with severe malaria and the stability of this pattern over time in Kilifi District on the Kenyan Coast. Hide abstract
The effectiveness of insecticide-treated bednets (ITBN) in preventing malaria and anaemia among primigravidae living in Kilifi District, Kenya, was assessed by a randomized controlled trial between September 1994 and November 1995. All residents within 28 community clusters received ITBN in July 1993, whilst residents of another 28 clusters served as contemporaneous controls. All resident primigravid women with singleton pregnancies attending antenatal care at Kilifi District Hospital were eligible for recruitment. 503 primigravidae were recruited. 91.4% were anaemic antenatally (Hb < 11 g/dl): 91.0% from the intervention arm and 92.0% from the control arm. Severe anaemia (Hb < 7 g/dl) was found among 15.1% of intervention women and 20.1% of control women (P = 0.28). No significant differences were observed in reports of febrile illness or the presence of chloroquine in the serum or peripheral parasitaemia during the third trimester between the two groups. In the women delivering in hospital (n = 130), there was no association between placental malaria infection and the intervention: 77.4% of placentas from control women had evidence of past or active infection, compared with 72.0% of placentas from intervention women (P = 0.76). Similarly, in the women delivering in hospital, ITBN did not improve birth weight, and there were no differences in perinatal mortality between the two study groups. Despite ITBN having a great impact on paediatric severe malaria and mortality in this transmission setting, there was very little impact of ITBN on the morbidity associated with malaria infection in primigravidae. Alternative strategies are required to tackle this continued public health problem for pregnant women living in endemic areas similar to the Kenyan Coast. Hide abstract
We investigated the pathophysiology of hypoglycaemia in severe malaria in African children, especially the potential importance of glycerol as a substrate for gluconeogenesis, and whether substrate limitation contributes to hypoglycaemia in severe disease. Of 171 children with moderate or severe malaria, 16% were hypoglycaemic on admission, while at least 9% of children with severe malaria treated with quinine and a concurrent 4% dextrose infusion had a definite episode of hypoglycaemia after admission. Blood levels of gluconeogenic precursors are as high (alanine and lactate) or higher (glycerol) in those with either hypoglycaemia on or after admission as they are in children never having an episode of hypoglycaemia. Among children with severe malaria, however, those having a definite episode of hypoglycaemia at some stage are more acidotic and have greater evidence of renal impairment than those who are never hypoglycaemic (mean base excess -14.4 vs. -7.2, p < 0.001, mean creatinine 97 vs. 64, p < 0.001 and mean urea 8.1 vs. 5.8, p = 0.03, respectively). These data do not support a role for reduced gluconeogenic substrate supply in the pathogenesis of hypoglycaemia in severe childhood malaria, but do support the hypothesis that gluconeogenesis is impaired. Commonly-used bedside blood glucose monitoring devices may overestimate blood glucose measurements in the normal range, and paradoxically may also seriously overestimate the frequency of hypoglycaemia. Hide abstract
The feasibility of a malaria vaccine is supported by the fact that children in endemic areas develop naturally acquired immunity to disease. Development of disease immunity is characterized by a decrease in the frequency and severity of disease episodes over several years despite almost continuous infection, suggesting that immunity may develop through the acquisition of a repertoire of specific, protective antibodies directed against polymorphic target antigens. Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) is a potentially important family of target antigens, because these proteins are inserted into the red cell surface and are prominently exposed and because they are highly polymorphic and undergo clonal antigenic variation, a mechanism of immune evasion maintained by a large family of var genes. In a large prospective study of Kenyan children, we have used the fact that anti-PfEMP1 antibodies agglutinate infected erythrocytes in a variant-specific manner, to show that the PfEMP1 variants expressed during episodes of clinical malaria were less likely to be recognized by the corresponding child's own preexisting antibody response than by that of children of the same age from the same community. In contrast, a heterologous parasite isolate was just as likely to be recognized. The apparent selective pressure exerted by established anti-PfEMP1 antibodies on infecting parasites supports the idea that such responses provide variant-specific protection against disease. Hide abstract
Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 92 (2), pp. 195-196. | Read more1998. Quinine sensitivity of isolates of Plasmodium falciparum from the coast of Kenya.
Little empirical evidence from field-based studies exists on the relative magnitude or duration of clinical protection from Plasmodium falciparum malaria in infancy. A prospective study was undertaken to examine the age distribution of hospital admissions in four geographically and demographically well-defined areas with differing intensities of P. falciparum transmission. Where transmission was perennial, significant clinical protection from severe morbidity was observed up to the third month of life; in the seasonal transmission area, disease rates rose after the sixth month of life. Infants exposed to the highest rates of P. falciparum exposure demonstrated significant declines in the risks of severe malaria from 6 months of age. These data provide direct evidence for the very early acquisition of clinical immunity and for the existence of a period of clinical protection, which together may explain why, in these communities, the cumulative risk of malarial disease throughout childhood appears to decline with increasing transmission intensity. Hide abstract
Despite over 100 years of scientific investigation, malaria remains the leading cause of death among children living in sub-Saharan Africa. Our understanding of the epidemiology of clinical malaria has, until recently, been hampered by a paucity of empirical data from endemic settings. A striking feature of Plasmodium falciparum malaria is that, compared to infection and mild disease, severe complications and death are rare. Perhaps the single most important factor which ameliorates the risk of asymptomatic infection progressing to life-threatening pathology is the development of clinical immunity. Examination of recent epidemiological evidence suggests that the speed with which clinical immunity is acquired is dependent upon the frequency of parasite exposure from birth. Consequently, the age at which disease presentation peaks, the clinical spectrum of disease and the life-time risks of disease appear to be a function of the intensity of transmission within a given community. These observations are discussed in relation to control measures aimed at reducing P. falciparum exposure and the need to understand better the processes by which children naturally acquire clinical immunity before more rational statements can be made about their wide-spread use in Africa. Hide abstract
There is a resurgence of interest in the clinical epidemiology of malaria among African children. This renewed interest follows fifty years of failure to eradicate infection in Africa and redirected efforts toward disease control and prevention. We have a poor understanding of the mechanisms by which clinical immunity is acquired; however, several recent studies have provided new insights into how fast clinical protection is acquired under the varied transmission intensities common to Africa. What is clear is that the frequency with which individuals encounter infection from birth will determine the speed with which they become clinically immune and the patterns of severe pathology they are likely to experience. There remains doubt and concerns over the long-term consequences of reducing natural parasite exposure in several areas of Africa. New field studies are urgently required to tackle these issues so that control may be guided by an improved understanding of malaria as a disease that can lead to death. Hide abstract
Development of an effective malaria vaccine poses a major scientific challenge both in the laboratory and in the field. Such a vaccine is necessary because of the massive disease burden of malaria in the developing world, the global spread of drug resistance, and the difficulty of sustainable control of the mosquito vector. Animal models have shown the immunological feasibility of vaccines targeted against different stages of parasite development, and studies in human volunteers have shown that a recombinant protein vaccine can protect against challenge with the homologous strain of parasite. However, both natural and vaccine-induced immunity are hampered by the remarkable capacity of the parasites to vary critical antigenic structures; large field trials of a synthetic peptide vaccine gave equivocal results. In an attempt to overcome the dual difficulty of poor immunogenicity and parasite diversity, much experimental work is now focused on complex antigenic constructs, delivered as DNA vaccines or in live vectors such as vaccinia, with multiple targets at each stage of parasite development. Hide abstract
Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 41 (10), pp. 2261-2264. Read abstract1997. Chlorproguanil-dapsone: effective treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria.
Pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine, the first choice for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Africa, exerts strong selection pressure for resistance because of its slow elimination. It is likely that resistance will emerge rapidly, and there is no widely affordable replacement. Chlorproguanil-dapsone is cheap, rapidly eliminated, more potent than pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine, and could be introduced in the near future to delay the onset of antifolate resistance and as "salvage therapy" for pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine failure. A total of 448 children were randomly allocated (double blind) to either a single dose of pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine or to one of two chlorproguanil-dapsone regimens: a single dose or three doses at 24-h intervals. Reinfections are clinically indistinguishable from recrudescence and are more likely after treatment with rapidly eliminated drugs; we measured the incidence of parasitemia in 205 initially aparasitemic children to allow comparison with the three treatment groups. The patients and a community surveillance group were followed up for 28 days. At the study end point, 31.2% (95% confidence interval, 24.9-38.0) of the community surveillance group subjects were parasitemic, compared with subjects in the treatment groups, whose rates of parasitemia were 40.8% (32.9-49.0; relative risk [RR], 1.31 [0.99-1.73]) after triple-dose chlorproguanil-dapsone, 19.7% (13.5-27.2; RR, 0.63 [0.43-0.93]) after pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine, and 65.6% (57.5-73.0; RR, 2.10 [1.66-2.65]) after single-dose chlorproguanil-dapsone. Pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine and triple-dose chlorproguanil-dapsone were effective treatments. Pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine provided chemoprophylaxis during follow-up because of its slow elimination. Triple-dose chlorproguanil-dapsone should now be developed in an attempt to reduce the rate of emergence of antifolate resistance in Africa and for affordable salvage therapy in cases of pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine failure. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 57 (4), pp. 389-398. Read abstract1997. Receptor-specific adhesion and clinical disease in Plasmodium falciparum.
One important factor in the virulence of infections with Plasmodium falciparum is the adherence of infected erythrocytes to small vessel endothelium. In infections that lead to serious, life-threatening disease accumulation of large numbers of infected cells in particular organs is thought to lead to organ dysfunction or failure. This is of particular relevance when the affected organ is the brain, leading to the development of cerebral malaria. Many different endothelial receptors for infected red blood cells have been identified. Some receptors such as CD36 and thrombospondin are used by all parasite isolates, whereas others such as intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) or vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM) are used by a subset of field and laboratory isolates. While it has been speculated that the ability to bind or affinity of binding to a particular endothelial receptor may be related to the pattern of disease, only studies with limited numbers of patients have been carried out to date and these have been in general inconclusive. Here we have taken parasite isolates from 150 patients with defined clinical syndromes as well as isolates from 50 healthy but parasitized community controls and quantitatively assessed their binding to purified endothelial receptors in vitro. Our results show that disregarding the level of adhesion, all parasites bind to CD36, most bind to ICAM-1, few bind to VCAM, and almost none bind to E-selectin. In assessing the degree of binding we show that 1) binding to all receptors was reduced in parasites taken from severely anemic patients; 2) binding to CD36 is identical in parasites from cerebral malaria patients and community controls but slightly elevated in parasites from nonsevere cases; and 3) binding to ICAM-1 is highest in cerebral malaria patients. Because rosette formation by uninfected cells has also been a phenotype associated with disease severity and one that may interfere in vitro with receptor binding, we also assessed rosette formation in all isolates. In this study the highest level of rosette-forming parasites was found in the anemic group and not the cerebral malaria group. Stratifying the data for the frequency of rosette formation showed that the above results were not significantly altered by this phenomenon. Our data are not consistent with a role for binding to CD36 in the development of severe disease but show an association between the degree of binding to ICAM-1 and clinical illness in nonanemic patients. Hide abstract
Trop Doct, 27 (4), pp. 235-236.1997. Signs of dehydration in severe childhood malaria.
A syndrome of severe anaemia (Hb < or = 5 g/dl), particularly severe malarial anaemia (SMA), remains a major cause of childhood mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. We hypothesized that the lactic acidosis which identifies those at the greatest risk of death often represents an oxygen debt incurred as a result of inadequate tissue perfusion. To examine this hypothesis, we measured oxygen consumption (VO2) using a portable metabolic monitor. Blood lactate and acid-base status were also determined. Pre-transfusion data on 44 children (28 with mild symptoms, 7 with respiratory distress and 9 controls) demonstrated very close dependence of VO2 on body surface area (BSA, R2 = 0.86, p < 0.001). After correcting for BSA, no significant differences were observed in mean VO2 values of the three clinical groups, indicating that a critical reduction in oxygen delivery is not the sole explanation for the development of a lactic acidosis and severe symptoms. Nine children (including five of the original 44) were monitored during transfusion. In four of the five with SMA, severe symptoms and severe lactic acidosis, transfusion produced a marked, transient increase in VO2 (maximum 30-41%), with a marked fall in blood lactate and clinical improvement. These data suggest that some children with SMA and respiratory distress accumulate an oxygen debt when a relatively high oxygen demand outstrips supply, this debt being repaid when supply is increased during transfusion. However, in the remaining one of these five children, an increase in VO2 (maximum 20%), was accompanied by a rise in blood lactate and clinical deterioration, suggesting that more pathophysiologically complex mechanisms, which may predominate in some children. Hide abstract
The malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum has acted as a potent selective force on the human genome. The particular virulence of this organism is thought to be due to the adherence of parasitised red blood cells to small vessel endothelium through several receptors, including CD36, thrombospondin and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1, CD54), and parasite isolates differ in their ability to bind to each. Immunohistochemical studies have implicated ICAM-1 as of potential importance in the pathogenesis of cerebral malaria, leading us to reason that if any single receptor were involved in the development of cerebral malaria, then in view of the high mortality of that complication, natural selection should have produced variants with reduced binding capacity. We therefore sequenced the N-terminal domain of ICAM-1 from a number of Africans and discovered a single mutation present at high frequency. Genotypes at this locus from samples from a case-control study indicated an association of the polymorphism with the severity of clinical malaria such that individuals homozygous for the mutation have increased susceptibility to cerebral malaria with a relative risk of two. These counterintuitive results have implications for the mechanism of malaria pathogenesis, resistance to other infectious agents and transplantation immunology. Hide abstract
Mol Biochem Parasitol, 87 (2), pp. 235-238. | Read more1997. Genomic representation of var gene sequences in Plasmodium falciparum field isolates from different geographic regions.
To evaluate glucose kinetics in children with falciparum malaria, basal glucose production and gluconeogenesis and an estimate of the flux of the gluconeogenic precursors were measured in Kenyan children with uncomplicated falciparum malaria before (n = 11) and during infusion of alanine (1.5 mg/kg.min; n = 6). Glucose production was measured by [6,6-2H2]glucose, gluconeogenesis by mass isotopomer distribution analysis of glucose labeled by [2-13C]glycerol. Basal plasma glucose concentration ranged from 2.1-5.5 mmol/L, and basal glucose production ranged from 3.3-7.3 mg/kg.min. Glucose production was largely derived from gluconeogenesis (73 +/- 4%; range, 52-93%). During alanine infusion, plasma glucose increased by 0.4 mmol/L (P = 0.03), glucose production increased by 0.8 mg/kg.min (P = 0.02), and gluconeogenesis increased by 0.8 mg/kg.min (P = 0.04). We conclude that glucose production in children with uncomplicated falciparum malaria is largely dependent on gluconeogenesis. However, gluconeogenesis is potentially limited by insufficient precursor supply. These data indicate that in children with falciparum malaria, gluconeogenesis fails to compensate in the presence of decreased glycogen flux to glucose, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 57 (2), pp. 205-215. Read abstract1997. Limited spatial clustering of individual Plasmodium falciparum alleles in field isolates from coastal Kenya.
We describe Plasmodium falciparum genetic diversity in coastal Kenya, typing S-antigen and the merozoite surface proteins 1 and 2 (MSP-1 and MSP-2) in field isolates by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Malaria in coastal Kenya is characterized by low seasonal transmission, and a relatively high incidence of severe disease, which tends to occur in time-space clusters. We chose the highly polymorphic S-antigen as a marker for localized parasite diversity because it has been shown to vary in serotype prevalence in time and space. A total of 261 children (up to nine years of age) in two neighboring locations with different transmission rates were sampled for blood-stage parasites in cross-sectional surveys before and after the main transmission period in 1991, and also in a concomitant one-year longitudinal survey tracing clinical infections. Six major sequence types of S-antigen were identified, which were subdivided into 70 alleles; however, only 50% of isolates were typeable. The S-antigen sequence types varied qualitatively between locations, over time, and between asymptomatic and clinical disease infections, but not between different age groups. The MSP-1 and MSP-2 sequence type prevalences, in contrast, did not differ in any of these comparisons. We describe the use of the Mantel test for assessing clustering of individual parasite alleles at the household level, and demonstrate low-level clustering of MSP-1 and MSP-2 alleles and S-antigen sequence types, at the end of a long period of low transmission. Hide abstract
The virulence of Plasmodium falciparum relative to the other species of malarial parasite which infect humans is thought to be due to this parasite's ability to adhere to endothelial cells lining small blood vessels and, in some cases, to its ability to form rosettes with uninfected erythrocytes. The latter phenotype has been found more frequently in cases of severe disease. The former property means that only the younger, asexual, intra-erythrocytic forms circulate whereas the more mature developmental stages are sequestered in the vasculature of a variety of organs. When large numbers of parasites accumulate in a vulnerable target organ such as the brain, the the life-threatening condition of cerebral malaria may result. While the factors that control whether or not cerebral malaria develops are not clearly defined, one crucial determinant my be the endothelial receptors utilised by the infecting isolate. Many such receptors have been identified, including CD36, thrombospondin, ICAM-1, VCAM, E-selectin and chondroitin-4-sulphate. The results of laboratory, field, post-mortem and direct receptor-binding studies indicate that, of the receptors currently identified, ICAM-1 binding is more likely to be associated with the development of cerebral malaria. The molecule expressed on the surface of the infected erythrocyte which mediates adherence to endothelium belongs to a large family of clonally variable antigens encoded by the var genes. The evidence for this conclusion and progress in defining the regions of var-gene products responsible to receptor-specific binding are discussed. Finally, the organization of the var genes within and between parasites is discussed in relation to the evolution of the var-gene family and its functions of antigenic variation and endothelial adhesion. Hide abstract
By US standards, about half of African children are malnourished, although most appear clinically normal. It is possible that precursor supply for gluconeogenesis is limited to a greater extent in these seemingly malnourished African children than in healthy children, consequently limiting glucose production. Since in malaria peripheral glucose utilization is increased, precursor supply could play an even more critical role in maintaining glucose production in African children suffering from falciparum malaria. We studied the effect of alanine infusion (1.5 mg/kg/min) on glucose production (measured by infusion of [6,6-2H2]glucose) and plasma glucose concentration in 10 consecutive children with acute, uncomplicated falciparum malaria. By US standards, six children were below the 10th percentile of weight for height and seven were below the 10th percentile of height for age. Plasma concentrations of alanine increased during alanine infusion from 153 +/- 21 to 468 +/- 39 mumol/l, whereas plasma lactate concentrations did not change (1.4 +/- 0.2 vs. 1.3 +/- 0.2 mmol/l). Plasma glucose concentration and glucose production did not change during alanine infusion: 4.6 +/- 0.3 vs. 4.5 +/- 0.3 mmol/l and 5.8 +/- 0.4 vs. 5.7 +/- 0.3 mg/kg/min, respectively. Gluconeogenic precursor supply is sufficient for maintainance of glucose production in African children with uncomplicated malaria who are malnourished by US standards. Hide abstract
Malaria remains a major cause of mortality and morbidity in Africa. Many approaches to malaria control involve reducing the chances of infection but little is known of the relations between parasite exposure and the development of effective clinical immunity so the long-term effect of such approaches to control on the pattern and frequency of malaria cannot be predicted. Hide abstract
Lancet, 349 (Suppl 3), pp. 1-2.1997. 30 years of science and technology: the example of malaria.
Childhood malaria remains a major killer in developing countries. Impregnated bednets could reduce the burden of disease now while vaccines are awaited. Recent studies on pathogenesis emphasise the systemic nature of severe disease even in African children and indicate that cerebral malaria is unlikely to be a homogenous syndrome. A broad, individualized approach to treatment is therefore required rather than merely the administration of antimalarial drugs. In regard to the latter, where quinine resistance is rare the use of newer quinghaosu derivatives confers no significant benefit. Hide abstract
The disposition of chlorproguanil/dapsone (one daily dose for 3 d of 1.2 and 2.4 mg/kg respectively) has been studied in young children with Plasmodium falciparum malaria, to provide data complementary to a clinical trial of this drug combination. Unbound concentrations of chlorcycloguanil (the active metabolite of chlorproguanil) and dapsone in clinical samples have been related to the unbound drug concentrations which produced defined outcomes in tests in vitro of drug efficacy and toxicity. Twelve children with uncomplicated malaria were treated: all cleared parasitaemia within 72 h and made uneventful recoveries. After the first dose of chlorproguanil/dapsone the maximum unbound chlorcycloguanil concentration in clinical samples (19 ng/mL [about 60 nM]) was 2 orders of magnitude above the 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) value for this drug against the K39 stain of P. falciparum, while falling 2 orders of magnitude below its IC50 against human bone marrow cells; the maximum unbound dapsone concentration in clinical samples (160 ng/mL [about 645 nM]) was 10-fold higher than its IC50 against the K39 strain. However, because of the rapid elimination of chlorproguanil from the body (half-life 12.6 +/- 6.3 h), the minimum fractional inhibitory concentrations of unbound chlorcycloguanil/dapsone against the K39 strain were probably exceeded for no more than 6 d. These data, together with the clinical trial, will be helpful in deciding whether current chlorproguanil/dapsone doses are optimal for the treatment of falciparum malaria. Hide abstract
Am J Clin Nutr, 65 (5), pp. 1534-1539. Read abstract1997. Inflammatory mediators in children with protein-energy malnutrition.
Edema is a typical sign in kwashiorkor, which is present in a subset of patients with protein-energy-malnutrition (PEM). The pathophysiology of this edema is not well established. One of the abnormalities found in kwashiorkor is reduced concentrations of antioxidants, suggesting a compromised capacity to neutralize free radicals, which are known to induce tissue damage. We have studied plasma concentrations of several mediators of the inflammatory cascade. Concentrations of interleukin 6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein, and the soluble receptors of tumor necrosis factor alpha (sTNFR-p55 and sTNFR-p75) are greater in children with PEM, particularly in those with kwashiorkor, whereas soluble receptors of IL-6 (sIL6R-gp80) and IL-1 receptor antagonist concentrations are not significantly different from those of healthy children. In addition, concentrations of IL-6, sTNFR-p55, and sTNFR-p75 are greater in kwashiorkor patients irrespective of the presence of infection. Antioxidant status, as determined by plasma concentrations of glutathione and vitamin E, is significantly reduced in kwashiorkor patients. These data support the notion that children with edematous malnutrition show increased inflammatory reactivity that may contribute to edema formation. Hide abstract
The disposition of intramuscular artemether (AM) was studied in 26 Kenyan children with cerebral malaria. Antimalarial activity determined by bioassay was compared with total plasma AM plus dihydroartemisinin (DHA) determined by high power liquid chromatography (HPLC). Therapeutic levels were achieved in most subjects (21/26) within 1 h of receiving intramuscular AM (3.2 mg/kg), with close correlation between bioassay and HPLC measurements (r = 0.706). However, there was marked inter-individual variation, antimalarial activity was undetectable in 5 subjects ('non-absorbers'), and plasma concentrations were lower in subject with respiratory distress. The 50% parasite clearance time was significantly longer in non-absorbers (mean = 13.1 h, SD = 10.8 vs. mean = 7.8 h, SD = 5.5; P = 0.013). We conclude that the bioavailability of intramuscular AM in children with severe malaria may be highly variable, particularly in the presence of respiratory distress, and may be associated with an inadequate therapeutic response. Hide abstract
Both malaria and undernutrition are major causes of paediatric mortality and morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa. The introduction of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITBN) during a randomized controlled trial on the Kenyan coast significantly reduced severe, life-threatening malaria and all-cause childhood mortality. This paper describes the effects of the intervention upon the nutritional status of infants aged between 1 and 11 months of age. Seven hundred and eighty seven infants who slept under ITBN and 692 contemporaneous control infants, were seen during one of three cross-sectional surveys conducted during a one year period. Standardized weight-for-age and mid-upper arm circumference measures were significantly higher among infants who used ITBN compared with control infants. Whether these improvements in markers of nutritional status were a direct result of concomitant reductions in clinical malaria episodes remains uncertain. Never-the-less evidence suggests that even moderate increases in weight-for-age scores can significantly reduce the probability of mortality in childhood and ITBN may provide additional gains to child survival beyond their impressive effects upon malaria-specific events. Hide abstract
Data were prospectively collected on 306 Kenyan children, including blood gases in 258 (75%). Severe malaria caused a predominantly high-anion-gap metabolic acidosis in at least 43% of children. Children with coma and respiratory distress (CM + RD) had greater evidence of renal dysfunction, lower mean pH and higher mean plasma osmolality than those with respiratory distress (RD) or coma (CM) as isolated findings (mean urea 10.7 vs. 6.0 vs. 4.3 mmol/l; mean creatinine 97 vs. 74 vs. 58 mumol/l; mean osmolality 301 vs. 288 vs. 283 mosmol/l; and mean pH 7.16 vs. 7.29 vs. 7.39, respectively, p < 0.001 for each comparison of CM + RD vs. RD or CM). In addition, children with CM + RD had a higher mean blood lactate (6.7 vs. 3.3 mmol/l, p < 0.001), a lower mean haemoglobin (5.5 vs. 7.0 g/dl, p = 0.002) and a lower mean age (26.4 vs. 41.9 months, p < 0.001) than children with CM and accounted for 15/24 (63%) of all deaths. These and previous data implicate hypovolaemia and renal impairment in the pathogenesis of metabolic acidosis in severe childhood malaria. In children who are acidotic, anaemia is strongly associated with lactic acidaemia and may therefore contribute to its pathogenesis. These data also imply that coma in acidotic children (CM + RD) and those with an isolated encephalopathy (CM) may result from quite different pathophysiological mechanisms. Hide abstract
The Blantyre coma scale (BCS) is used to assess children with severe falciparum malaria, particularly as a criterion for cerebral malaria, but it has not been formally validated. We compared the BCS to the Adelaide coma scale (ACS), for Kenyan children with severe malaria. We examined the inter-observer agreement between 3 observers in the assessment of coma scales on 17 children by measuring the proportion of agreement (PA), disagreement rate (DR) and fixed sample size kappa (kappa n). We assessed the sensitivity and specificity of the scales in detecting events (seizures and hypoglycaemia) in 240 children during admission and the usefulness of the scales in predicting outcome. There was considerable disagreement between observers in the assessment of both scales (BCS: PA = 0.55, DR = 0.09 and kappa n = 0.27; ACS: PA = 0.36, DR = 0.31, and kappa n = 0.31), particularly with the verbal component of the BCS (kappa n = 0.02). Compared to the ACS, the BCS was more specific (0.85 for BCS and 0.80 for ACS), but less sensitive (0.25-0.69 vs. 0.38-0.88 respectively) in detecting events and was a worse predictor of neurological sequelae. The BCS provided a better overall assessment of a child's incapacity from falciparum malaria, but the ACS was more useful in assessing neurological disturbances. Hide abstract
The causes of death and neurological sequelae in African children with cerebral malaria are obscure. Intracranial pressure (ICP) was monitored and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) calculated in 23 Kenyan children with cerebral malaria. Four children had severe intracranial hypertension (ICP > 40 mm Hg, CPP < 40 mm Hg): two died, one with an ICP of 158 mm Hg and signs of transtentorial herniation, the other one with an ICP of 42 mm Hg and cardiorespiratory arrest. The other two survived with severe neurological sequelae. Nine had intermediate intracranial hypertension (ICP > 20 mm Hg, CPP < 50 mm Hg) and 10 had mild intracranial hypertension (maximum ICP 10-20 mm Hg); all survived without severe sequelae. Mannitol controlled the ICP in children with intermediate intracranial hypertension, but it did not prevent the development of intractable intracranial hypertension in children with severe intracranial hypertension. Intracranial hypertension is a feature of Kenyan children with cerebral malaria and severe intracranial hypertension is associated with a poor outcome. Hide abstract
Severe anaemia is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in African children, but the causes, particularly falciparum malaria, are difficult to determine. We assessed the contribution of falciparum malaria to anaemia in Kenyan children by clinical examination and measurement of parasitaemia and haemoglobin (Hb) concentration in 559 children in the community and in 2412 children admitted to Kilifi district hospital during a 2-year period. We also attempted to characterize severe malarial anaemia by examining the causes and pathophysiology of anaemia in 101 children admitted with Hb concentration < or = 50 g/l during a 1-year period. Plasmodium falciparum infection was associated with reduced Hb concentration in children in the community and in those admitted to hospital irrespective of diagnosis. Falciparum malaria was the primary cause in 46 cases (46%) of severe anaemia admitted to hospital. There was no difference in the frequency of haemolysis or dyserythropoiesis in the children with malarial anaemia and those with anaemia from other causes, such as iron deficiency or sickle cell disease. The mortality rate in the children with severe malarial anaemia was 8.6% compared with 3.6% in children with severe anaemia due to other causes. Falciparum malaria does not present with a characteristic clinical or haematological picture, but is a major cause of the morbidity and mortality in children with severe anaemia who live on the Kenyan coast, a malaria endemic area. Hide abstract
JOURNAL OF NEUROCHEMISTRY, 69 pp. S181-S181.1997. Cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of quinolinic acid. Total neopterin and nitrate plus nitrite in Kenyan children recovering from cerebral malaria.
BMJ, 313 (7071), pp. 1527-1528. | Read more1996. Video assessment of simple respiratory signs.
PARASITOLOGY TODAY, 12 (12), pp. 455-457. | Read more1996. The need for maps of transmission intensity to guide malaria control in Africa
Data collected from 200 children admitted to a hospital on the Kenyan coast who met a broad definition of severe acute respiratory infection (ARI) indicated that simple clinical signs alone are unable absolutely to distinguish severe ARI and severe malaria. However, laboratory data showed that marked differences exist in the pathophysiology of unequivocal malaria and unequivocal ARI. Children in the former group had a higher mean oxygen saturation (97 vs. 94, P < 0.001), mean blood urea level (5.3 vs. 1.9 mmol/L, P < 0.001) and geometric mean lactate level (4.5 vs. 2.1 mmol/L, P < 0.001), and lower mean haemoglobin level (5.3 vs. 9.0 g/dL, P < 0.001) and base excess (-9.4 vs. -2.6, P < 0.001) than those in the latter group. Using these discriminatory variables it was estimated that up to 45% of children admitted with respiratory signs indicative of severe ARI probably had malaria as the primary diagnosis. Radiological examination supported this conclusion, indicating that pneumonia characterized by consolidation was uncommon in children with respiratory signs and a high malarial parasitaemia (> or = 10,000/microliters). There is no specific radiological sign of severe malaria. In practice, all children with respiratory signs warranting hospital admission in a malaria endemic area should be treated for both malaria and ARI unless blood film examination excludes malaria. In those with malaria and clinical evidence of acidosis, but no crackles, antibodies may be withheld while appropriate treatment for dehydration and anaemia is given. However, if clinical improvement is not rapid, antibiotics should be started. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 55 (5), pp. 521-524. Read abstract1996. Deep breathing in children with severe malaria: indicator of metabolic acidosis and poor outcome.
Despite the frequent association of respiratory symptoms and signs with malarial morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, the value of individual symptoms and signs has rarely been assessed. We have prospectively examined the association of individual clinical findings with the summary diagnosis of respiratory distress, outcome, and the presence of metabolic acidosis in children admitted with severe malaria to a Kenyan district hospital. Respiratory distress was present in 119 of the 350 children included in the study and in 23 of the 30 deaths (relative risk = 6.5, 95% confidence interval = 2.8-14.4). The features of a history of dyspnea, nasal flaring, and indrawing or deep breathing (Kussmaul's respiration) were individually most closely associated with the summary diagnosis of respiratory distress. Of these, deep breathing, which was sensitive (91%) and specific (83%) for the presence of severe metabolic acidosis (base excess < or = -12), is the best candidate sign to represent the prognostically important syndrome of malarial respiratory distress. Therefore, it warrants further prospective evaluation in different clinical settings and areas of different malaria endemicity. Hide abstract
The pathophysiology of hypoglycaemia in children with acute falciparum malaria, a frequent and serious complication, is unknown due to absence of data on glucose kinetics. We investigated the correlation between basal glucose production and plasma glucose concentration in 20 children (8 girls) with acute, uncomplicated falciparum malaria by infusion of [6,6-2H2]glucose. Median plasma glucose concentration was 4.5 (range 2.1-6.5) mmol/L and the median glucose production 5.0 (range 4.1-8.4) mg/kg/min. There was a positive correlation between basal glucose production and plasma glucose concentration (r = 0.53, P = 0.016). There was no correlation between the rate of glucose production and the plasma concentrations of alanine, lactate, counter-regulatory hormones or cytokines. It was concluded that, in children with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria, endogenous glucose production is an important determinant of plasma glucose concentration, contrary to previous findings in adults with malaria, in whom peripheral uptake seems to be more important than glucose production in determining plasma glucose concentration. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 55 (5), pp. 525-530. Read abstract1996. Transfusion for respiratory distress in life-threatening childhood malaria.
We have prospectively collected information during resuscitation in 24 children with life-threatening malaria. All had clinical respiratory distress and 16 were severely anemic (hemoglobin < or = 5 g/dL) on admission. Central venous pressure (CVP) measurements were normal (< or = 5 cm of water) prior to treatment but all had a metabolic acidosis. The geometric mean lactate level was significantly higher in children admitted with severe anemia than in those without severe anemia (11.2 mmol/l versus 4.2 mmol/l; P = 0.009). Hypovolemia (a CVP on admission < 0 cm of water) was associated, although not significantly, with a higher admission plasma creatinine concentration (94 mumol/l versus 64 mumol/l; P = 0.06) and probably contributed to the severely reduced creatinine clearances (0-39 ml/min/1.73 ml2) found in 12 of the 13 children in whom this was assessed in the first 24 hr. Treatment resulted in a rapid decrease in blood lactate in 16 of the 13 children in whom this was assessed in the first 24 hr. Treatment resulted in a rapid decrease in blood lactate in 16 of the 20 children transfused, which was most dramatic in severely anemic children, who were rapidly resuscitated. In nonanemic children, early and rapid administration of normal saline usually resulted in both metabolic and clinical improvement. However, in three children, two of whom died, acidosis persisted despite resuscitation. Metabolic acidosis often accounts for respiratory distress in life-threatening childhood malaria. Severe anemia and hypovolemia appear to play major roles in its pathogenesis, are readily treatable, and there appears to be little risk of congestive cardiac failure even with an aggressive approach to fluid replacement. Hide abstract
A study was undertaken in order to determine the prevalence and aetiology of anaemia in pregnancy in coastal Kenya, so as to establish locally important causes and enable the development of appropriate intervention strategies. 275 women attending the antenatal clinic at Kilifi district hospital, Kenya, were recruited in November 1993. The prevalence of anaemia (haemoglobin [Hb] < 11 g/dL) was 75.6%, and the prevalence of severe anaemia (Hb < 7g/dL) was 9.8% among all parities; 15.3% of 73 primigravidae were severely anaemic, compared with 7.9% of 202 multigravidae (P = 0.07). In primigravidae, malaria infection (Plasmodium falciparum) was strongly associated with moderate and severe anaemia (chi 2 test for trend, P = 0.003). Severe anaemia was more than twice as common in women with peripheral parasitaemia as in those who were aparasitaemic, and parasitaemia was associated with a 2.2g/dL decrease in mean haemoglobin level (P < 0.001). In multigravidae, iron deficiency and hookworm infection were the dominant risk factors for anaemia. Folate deficiency and human immunodeficiency virus infection were not strongly associated with anaemia. It is suggested that an intervention that can effectively reduce malaria infection in primigravidae could have a major impact on the health of these women and their infants. Hide abstract
Lancet, 348 (9023), pp. 344-345. | Read more1996. Impact of UK malaria prophylaxis policy on imported malaria.
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 55 (2), pp. 144-149. Read abstract1996. Infant parasite rates and immunoglobulin M seroprevalence as a measure of exposure to Plasmodium falciparum during a randomized controlled trial of insecticide-treated bed nets on the Kenyan coast.
Repeated cross-sectional surveys among infants sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets (ITBN) and contemporary control infants were used to estimate changes in Plasmodium falciparum exposure due to ITBN use on the Kenyan coast. Presence of P. falciparum parasites or total P. falciparum Immunoglobulin M (IgM) seropositivity were used independently and in combination in a constant risk catalytic conversion model to estimate the force of infection in ITBN and control communities. Such studies during infancy avoid problems of early saturation of prevalence due to high forces of infection and persistence of infection, minimize problems of self-treatment, and can be conducted among large populations covering a wide geographic area. These contrast previous parasitologic studies of ITBN among older children and the traditional entomologic studies of transmission that are logistically demanding. Our investigations demonstrated that parasite prevalence, IgM seropositivity, and the force of transmission were all significantly reduced by 50%. In addition, more infants under ITBN entered their second year of life without previous exposure to P. falciparum than control infants. These effects upon delayed acquisition of effective immunity require careful monitoring during future vector control programs using ITBN. Hide abstract
Prolonged, multiple seizures complicate a high proportion of cases of childhood cerebral malaria, and several studies have shown an association between these and neurological sequelae. We prospectively studied 65 patients (38 female) admitted to Kilifi Hospital in 1994. Electroencephalographic recordings (EEGs) were made at 12-hourly intervals, with continuous recordings made on a cerebral function analysing monitor (CFAM). Survivors were seen one month after discharge. Cerebral computerized tomography was performed on children with neurological sequelae. Sixty-two percent of patients had seizures following admission, of whom half had an episode of status epilepticus. Fifty-two percent of seizures were partial motor, 34% generalized tonic-clonic, and 14% partial with secondary generalization. In 22%, coma appeared to be due to a prolonged postictal state. Ten children had subtle motor seizures. Posterior parieto-temporal discharges were the most common EEG finding. Seven children died, eight developed neurological sequelae, and 50 (77%) recovered fully. Status epilepticus was associated with the development of neurological sequelae. Prolonged, multiple seizures may play an important part in the pathogenesis of coma in childhood cerebral malaria, and are likely to contribute to both the morbidity and mortality of this disease. Hide abstract
The mechanisms of death and neurologic sequelae in African children with cerebral malaria are undetermined. Because pathologic features are confined to the cerebral vasculature, perturbations in cerebral hemodynamics may be responsible. We compared the transcranial Doppler findings in 50 children with cerebral malaria with those of 115 conscious Kenyan children. In addition, 10 children with cerebral malaria were studied during intracranial pressure monitoring and nine children were studied during the agonal stages. In the children with cerebral malaria, cerebral blood flow velocity was increased in 30%, usually associated with seizures. Of the 11 children who developed neurologic sequelae, six had sonographic abnormalities associated with lateralizing deficits, including four children with hemiparesis (in two children the contralateral middle cerebral artery could not be insonated and two had transient increases in blood flow velocity associated with seizures). In the children with severe intracranial hypertension, there was a significant linear relationship between the cerebral perfusion pressure and blood flow velocity, suggesting that autoregulation was impaired. Sonographic features of progressive intracranial hypertension, were observed in three children with cerebral malaria who died. Perturbations of cerebral hemodynamics are associated with a poor outcome in Kenyan children with cerebral malaria. Hide abstract
BACKGROUND Salicylates continue to be marketed and to be used in developing countries as over-the-counter (OTC) antipyretics in children, whereas in developed countries they are no longer used in children because of safety concerns. The presenting signs of salicylate poisoning, especially chronic (repeated administration of therapeutic or excessive doses for longer than 12 h), can include metabolic acidosis, hypoglycaemia, lethargy, and coma and fits. These signs are also common in severe malaria in African children. Admission of two probable cases of chronic salicylate poisoning prompted us to look for other cases among children presenting to our hospital in Kenya, apparently with severe malaria. METHODS All children admitted to Kilifi District Hospital between July and September, 1994, who had a positive blood film for Plasmodium falciparum, and one or more of coma, prostration, or respiratory distress were eligible. As well as routine tests for malaria and routine biochemistry, salicylate concentrations were measured. Management of children (aged 6 months to 10 years) in the community was assessed by a cross-sectional survey of 463 households and by interviews with mothers 2 days after they had bought OTC drugs for a child with fever. FINDINGS Data were available for 143 of 154 children with initial primary diagnoses of severe malaria. 129 (90 percent) had detectable (>l mg/dL) salicylate. Six of these had salicylate concentrations of 20 mg/dL or higher. All six had neurological impairment and metabolic acidosis and four were, or became, hypoglycaemic. OTC drugs were the first-line treatment in 188 (74 percent) of 254 fever episodes during the 2 weeks before the cross-sectional survey. Of 250 mothers who bought drugs for a febrile child, 236 (94 percent) bought a preparation containing salicylates and 50 (21 percent) gave a dose higher than the manufacturer's recommended maximum. INTERPRETATION These cases suggest that in some children salicylate poisoning may cause or contribute to the development of metabolic acidosis and hypoglycaemia, complications of severe malaria associated with high mortality. Hide abstract
Lancet, 347 (9011), pp. 1327-1328. | Read more1996. Clinical algorithm for malaria in Africa.
We have compared the efficacy of artemether versus quinine as treatment for cerebral malaria in children in an open randomized clinical trial in Kenya. Children admitted to hospital with coma and Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia were treated with either intramuscular artemether (3.2 mg/kg loading dose followed by 1.6 mg/kg daily) or intravenous quinine (20 mg/kg loading dose followed by 10 mg/kg every 8 h). Both drugs were well tolerated and no significant adverse effect was observed. Parasite clearance times (50% and 90%) were shorter in patients treated with artemether (median times [h], with interquartile ranges in brackets, were: 50%, 7.3 [4.2-12.4] vs. 15.5 [9-22]; 90%, 16.9 [13.2-25] vs. 28.5 [22-35]; P < 0.0001). The total mortality in 160 children with cerebral malaria was 16.25%, with no overall significant difference between the 2 treatment groups. In a subgroup of children with respiratory distress, mortality was higher in those treated with artemether (43.7% vs. 11.1%, P < 0.05). The frequency of neurological sequelae and clinical recovery times were similar in both treatment groups. We conclude that there would currently be no advantage in replacing quinine with artemether for the treatment of cerebral malaria in African children. Hide abstract
HUMAN IMMUNOLOGY, 47 (1-2), pp. O642-O642.1996. Association of the TNF-238 promoter polymorphism with susceptibility to tuberculosis and malaria in Africa
New tools to prevent malaria morbidity and mortality are needed to improve child survival in sub-Saharan Africa. Insecticide treated bednets (ITBN) have been shown, in one setting (The Gambia, West Africa), to reduce childhood mortality. To assess the impact of ITBN on child survival under different epidemiological and cultural conditions we conducted a community randomized, controlled trial of permethrin treated bednets (0.5 g/m2) among a rural population on the Kenyan Coast. Between 1991 and 1993 continuous community-based demographic surveillance linked to hospital-based in-patient surveillance identified all mortality and severe malaria morbidity events during a 2-year period among a population of over 11000 children under 5 years of age. In July 1993, 28 randomly selected communities were issued ITBN, instructed in their use and the nets re-impregnated every 6 months. The remaining 28 communities served as contemporaneous controls for the following 2 years, during which continuous demographic and hospital surveillance was maintained until the end of July 1995. The introduction of ITBN led to significant reductions in childhood mortality (PE 33%, CI 7-51%) and severe, life-threatening malaria among children aged 1-59 months (PE 44%, CI 19-62). These findings confirm the value of ITBN in improving child survival and provide the first evidence of their specific role in reducing severe morbidity from malaria. Hide abstract
Between October 1990 and November 1991 data were collected on the frequency, causes, and nature of epileptic seizures in children admitted to the paediatric ward at Kilifi District Hospital, Kenya, from a defined study area. During this period, 1324 children were studied, of whom 15.8% had seizures as part of their illness. Malaria was by far the commonest cause of seizures, accounting for 69.0%; no other single condition caused more than 4.4%. The proportion of respiratory infections complicated by seizures was 4.0% compared to 31.3% for malaria. Only 25% of malaria-related epileptic seizures were associated with cerebral malaria; the remainder were associated with otherwise uncomplicated malaria and, in this group, 84% had complex seizures, with 47% being partial and over 70% repetitive. There was no relationship with fever, with 54% of observed seizures occurring at rectal temperatures below 38 degrees C. The minimum community incidence of complex seizures in association with non-cerebral malaria was 5.8 per 1000 per year. Complex epileptic seizures in association with otherwise uncomplicated malaria are common and may be a significant cause of longer term morbidity in malaria endemic areas. Hide abstract
The prevalence and likely cause of hyponatraemia in severe childhood malaria were investigated. One hundred and thirty two children, 47 of whom had cerebral malaria, were prospectively recruited and serial simple indices of fluid and electrolyte balance and renal function monitored during admission. In 55%, hyponatraemia (sodium < 135 mmol/l) was present on admission. Hyponatraemia was pronounced (sodium < or = 130 mmol/l) in 21%, and these children gained less weight during admission (mean weight gain 2.4% v 4.3%) than children with a normal sodium (135-145 mmol/l). Overall, 31% of survivors were at least moderately dehydrated on admission (5% weight gain by discharge). These children had higher plasma urea concentrations on admission (6.1 v 4.5 mmol/l) and were more acidotic (mean base excess -12.1 v -8.0) than children who were not dehydrated. There were changes in simple indices of renal function between admission and discharge in children who survived (creatinine 65.7 v 37.9 mumol/l and urea 5.5 v 1.9 mmol/l). The results suggest that dehydration is common in severe childhood malaria, that it may contribute to mild impairment in renal function, and that hyponatraemic children are less water depleted, showing appropriate rather than inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone. Hide abstract
Traditional Giemsa-stained thick blood films were compared with 2 fluorescence microscopy techniques, acridine orange (AO) staining of thin blood films and the quantitative buffy coat (QBC) method, for the microscopical diagnosis of malaria. Of 200 samples examined, 141 were positive by Giemsa staining, 146 by AO and 137 by QBC. Overall sensitivities for the 2 fluorescence techniques compared to Giemsa staining were good: AO 97.9% and QBC 93.6%. However, with parasitaemias < 100/microL the QBC sensitivity fell to 41.7% whereas that of AO was 83.3%. Both AO and QBC were unable to differentiate accurately between individual malaria species. We conclude that the QBC technique alone cannot replace Giemsa-stained thick blood films for most purposes in an African setting. However, apart from species differentiation, the AO method is an appropriate technique for the laboratory diagnosis of malaria in developing countries. Hide abstract
PARASITOLOGY TODAY, 11 (11), pp. 426-426. | Read more1995. IS REDUCTION OF TRANSMISSION DESIRABLE FOR MALARIA CONTROL - REPLY
NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, 333 (15), pp. 1012-1012.1995. INDICATORS OF LIFE-THREATENING MALARIA - REPLY
The authors evaluated the inter-observer agreement between two experienced clinicians examining 19 unconscious children who were not paralysed or ventilated. Inter-observer reliability was assessed by proportion of agreement, disagreement rate and kappa statistics. Corneal reflexes, pupillary responses to light and motor responses were the most reliably elicited. Reduction of the number of categories improved inter-observer agreement. Some of the disagreement may be attributed to changes in the child's condition during the period of assessment. There was more agreement about the five-category 0-IV scale than the summated Adelaide (10-category) and Jacobi (13-category) scales. The ability of these scales to follow changes in the patient's condition and to predict outcome needs to be evaluated in a prospective trial. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 53 (3), pp. 303-305. Read abstract1995. Parasite viability during treatment of severe falciparum malaria: differential effects of artemether and quinine.
The effect of artemether (AR) and quinine (QN) on parasite viability ex vivo was compared in children being treated for severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Parasitized blood taken at intervals during treatment was cultured in vitro, and parasite development was assessed microscopically. Parasite viability (defined as the proportion of circulating rings developing to early schizonts) was 56.8% in the AR group (n = 7) 6 hr after the start of treatment, compared with 93.3% for QN (n = 6; P = 0.015). Even after 24 hr of QN treatment, parasite viability was not significantly reduced in five patients. These ex vivo findings, which confirm previous observations of the stage-specific effects of these drugs against P. falciparum, suggest that AR may be superior to QN in the treatment of severe malaria. Hide abstract
East Afr Med J, 72 (8), pp. 536-539. Read abstract1995. The management of severe malaria in children: a review.
We have attempted to summarise an approach to management of severe malaria from our experience and that of others from published data in this review. This represents our current state of knowledge and practices which may change as research continues in this field. It also represents what we feel should be the minimum aim in treating severe malaria even at district hospital level. It focuses on practical issues encountered when admitting such patients: initial assessment, immediate supportive management, use of transfusion, appropriate anti-malarial treatment and ongoing management. Hide abstract
Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, the most common enzymopathy of humans, affects over 400 million people. The geographical correlation of its distribution with the historical endemicity of malaria suggests that this disorder has risen in frequency through natural selection by malaria. However, attempts to confirm that G6PD deficiency is protective in case-control studies of malaria have yielded conflicting results. Hence, for this X-linked disorder, it is unclear whether both male hemizygotes and female heterozygotes are protected or, as frequently suggested, only females. Furthermore, how much protection may be afforded is unknown. Here we report that, in two large case-control studies of over 2,000 African children, the common African form of G6PD deficiency (G6PD A-) is associated with a 46-58% reduction in risk of severe malaria for both female heterozygotes and male hemizygotes. A mathematical model incorporating the measured selective advantage against malaria suggests that a counterbalancing selective disadvantage, associated with this enzyme deficiency, has retarded its rise in frequency in malaria-endemic regions. Although G6PD deficiency is now regarded as a generally benign disorder, in earlier environmental conditions it could have been significantly disadvantageous. Hide abstract
Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 89 (4), pp. 462-464. | Read more1995. Optimal regimens of parenteral quinine.
TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HYGIENE, 89 (4), pp. 463-464. | Read more1995. QUININE DOSE RECOMMENDATIONS IN CHILDHOOD MALARIA - A REPLY
Infect Immun, 63 (6), pp. 2323-2326. Read abstract1995. Plasmodium falciparum rosetting is associated with malaria severity in Kenya.
Rosette formation in 154 fresh Plasmodium falciparum isolates from Kenyan children with mild (n = 54), moderate (n = 64), or severe (n = 36) malaria was studied to determine whether the ability to form rosettes in vitro is correlated with malaria severity. There was a wide distribution of rosette frequencies within each clinical category; however, a clear trend towards higher rosette frequency with increasing severity of disease was seen, with the median rosette frequency of the mild-malaria group (1%; range, 0 to 82%) being significantly lower than those of the moderate-malaria group (5%; range, 0 to 45%; Mann-Whitney U test, P < 0.02) and the severe-malaria group (7%; range, 0 to 97%; Mann-Whitney U test, P < 0.003). Within the severe-malaria category there was no difference in rosetting among isolates from cerebral malaria patients or those with other forms of severe malaria. We also examined the ABO blood groups of the patients from whom isolates were obtained and found that isolates from group O patients (median rosette frequency, 2%; range 0 to 45%) rosetted less well than those from group A (median, 7%; range 0 to 82%; Mann-Whitney U test, P < 0.01) or group AB (median, 11%; range 0 to 94%; Mann-Whitney U test, P < 0.03). We therefore confirm that rosetting is associated with severe malaria and provide further evidence that rosetting is influenced by ABO blood group type. Whether rosetting itself plays a direct role in the pathogenesis of severe malaria or is a marker for some other causal factor remains unknown. Hide abstract
About 90 percent of the deaths from malaria are in African children, but criteria to guide the recognition and management of severe malaria have not been validated in them. Hide abstract
There have been few attempts to examine the relationship between the intensity of transmission and the ensuing burden of disease or mortality from Plasmodium falciparum in Africa Bob Snow and Kevin Marsh here present the available data on malaria-specific mortality and severe morbidity among African children in relation to estimates of annual rates of falciparum inoculation. These data suggest that cohort mortality from malaria may remain similar between areas experiencing over 100-fold differences in transmission pressure. The authors raise doubts about the possible long term benefits to children living in areas of high transmission of control strategies aimed at sustained reduction in human-vector contact, for example insecticide treated bednets. Hide abstract
Respiratory abnormalities are common presentations of malaria and acute respiratory tract infection, both of which are major causes of childhood mortality and morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa. Appropriate management depends on accurate assessment of disease severity which for the majority of children must be based on clinical signs alone. Choosing which signs best serve this purpose remains a considerable problem particularly in malaria endemic areas. As part of a prospective study to define clinical signs indicative of life threatening malaria video recordings were used to examine the level of agreement between clinicians for potentially important respiratory signs in 51 children. Overall agreement was good for recession, severe recession, and nasal flaring (kappa = 0.57, 0.50, and 0.60 respectively) and substantial for deep breathing and the summary impression of respiratory distress (kappa = 0.70 and 0.69 respectively). However, within this substantial variation in interpretation was apparent between individual observers from slight to almost perfect agreement (kappa values 0.10-0.92). Video is a useful tool to demonstrate interobserver variation and it may also allow training in recognition of signs and a means of standardising clinical signs between centres. Hide abstract
J Biosoc Sci, 27 (2), pp. 235-244. Read abstract1995. Perceptions of symptoms of severe childhood malaria among Mijikenda and Luo residents of coastal Kenya.
Effective community based malaria control programmes require an understanding of current perceptions of malaria as a disease and its severe manifestations. Quantitative and qualitative surveys of mothers on the Kenyan Coast suggest that fever is conceptualised in biomedical terms whereas the aetiology of severe malaria is perceived to be of more complex cultural origin. This is reflected in the treatments sought for convulsions. The results are discussed in the context of ethnographic factors. To be effective, future health information programmes must take cultural beliefs into account. Hide abstract
INVESTIGATIVE OPHTHALMOLOGY & VISUAL SCIENCE, 36 (4), pp. S779-S779.1995. CLINICAL AND ANGIOGRAPHIC FEATURES OF RETINAL LESIONS IN CHILDREN WITH SEVERE MALARIA
INVESTIGATIVE OPHTHALMOLOGY & VISUAL SCIENCE, 36 (4), pp. S105-S105.1995. FEASIBILITY OF OPTIC-NERVE LASER-DOPPLER BLOOD-FLOW (F(ONH)) MEASUREMENTS IN CHILDREN WITH CEREBRAL MALARIA
1. Kenyan children with uncomplicated malaria given oral halofantrine (HF; non-micronised suspension; 8 mg base kg-1 body weight 6 hourly for three doses) showed wide variation in the disposition of HF and desbutylhalofantrine (HFm). 2. Eight Kenyan children with severe (prostrate) falciparum malaria who were receiving intravenous quinine, were given the same HF regimen by nasogastric tube. One patient had undetectable HF and two had undetectable HFm at all times after drug administration. 3. The mean AUC(0,24 h) of HF in prostrate children was half (7.54 compared with 13.10 micrograms ml-1 h) (P = 0.06), and that for HFm one-third (0.84 compared with 2.51 micrograms ml-1 h) (P < 0.05) of the value in children with uncomplicated malaria. 4. Oral HF may be appropriate for some cases of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Africa, but in patients with severe malaria, the bioavailability of HF and HFm may be inadequate. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 52 (3), pp. 201-206. Read abstract1995. Relationships between Plasmodium falciparum transmission by vector populations and the incidence of severe disease at nine sites on the Kenyan coast.
The transmission of Plasmodium falciparum was studied in relation to the incidence of severe malaria infections at nine sites in the Kilifi District in Kenya. Intensive mosquito sampling during a one-year period yielded Anopheles gambiae s. l., An. funestus, An. coustani, An. squamosus, An. nili, and An. pharoensis. Anopheles gambiae s.l. was the predominant vector, comprising 98.4% of the total anophelines collected. Overall, 3.5% of 2,868 An. gambiae s.l. collected indoors and 0.8% of 261 collected outdoors contained P. falciparum sporozoites. Transmission was detected during 10 months, with peak periods from June to August and December to January. In eight of the nine sites, entomologic inoculation rates (EIRs) averaged only four infective bites per year (range 0-18); an annual EIR of 60 was measured for the site with the highest intensity of transmission. The incidence of severe malaria infections, ranging from 8.6 to 38.1 per 1,000 children (0-4 years), was not associated with EIRs. At these sites on the coast of Kenya, a high incidence of severe disease occurs under conditions of very low levels of transmission by vector populations. With respect to conventional approaches for vector control in Africa, decreases in transmission, even to levels barely detectable by standard approaches, may not yield corresponding long-term reductions in the incidence of severe disease. Hide abstract
Parasitology Today, 11 (11), pp. 426-426.1995. Reply
The ability of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes to form spontaneous rosettes with uninfected red cells is a parasite adhesion property which has been associated with severe malaria. The mechanism of rosetting remains unknown, but the ability of heparin to disrupt rosettes has been recognised previously. In this paper we show that a group of sulphated glycoconjugates including sulphatide, dextran sulphate, and fucoidan are more effective rosette reversing agents than heparin and are active against both laboratory strains and wild isolates. Other related anionic glycosaminoglycans such as the chondroitin sulphates A, B, and C and hyaluronic acid have no effect on rosette formation. This family of sulphated glycoconjugates which are active against rosettes is also known to inhibit sporozoite invasion of hepatocytes and merozoite reinvasion of erythrocytes, suggesting that sulphated glycoconjugate interaction may be an important process in cell adhesion at different stages in the plasmodial life cycle. Hide abstract
Ann Trop Med Parasitol, 88 (6), pp. 665-671. Read abstract1994. The prevalence and morbidity of snake bite and treatment-seeking behaviour among a rural Kenyan population.
Snake-bite mortality among a rural population in Kenya was estimated to be 6.7/100,000 people each year, representing 0.7% of all deaths. A community-based retrospective survey of 4712 households provided estimates of the incidence of snake bite in this population. Although 151/100,000 people are bitten each year, only 19% of these are bitten by potentially venomous snakes. When those who had been bitten were shown photographs of a range of locally prevalent snakes, most indicated that both venomous and non-venomous snakes were capable of causing death. Most (68%) of bite cases sought treatment from a traditional healer who invariably used local herbal preparations applied to the bite site and/or in a ring around the bitten limb. Local skin incisions were also commonly practised. The use of traditional medicine for snake bite is a feature of most areas of the developing world where venomous snakes are prevalent. Improvements in early referral and appropriate care will only occur when traditional healers are integrated into primary health care and hospital-based health systems. Hide abstract
Access to essential clinical services offered by district hospitals or health centres forms an important component of primary health care activities in the developing world. Utilization of hospital facilities during life-threatening childhood illnesses will affect survivorship. Hide abstract
Malaria remains a major public health challenge in sub-Saharan Africa, yet our knowledge of the epidemiology of malaria in terms of patterns of mortality and morbidity is limited. We have examined the presentation of severe, potentially life-threatening malaria to district hospitals in two very different transmission settings: Kilifi, Kenya with low seasonal transmission and Ifakara, Tanzania with high seasonal transmission. The minimum annual rates of severe disease in children below five years in both populations were similar (46 per 1000 children in Kilifi and 51 per 1000 children in Ifakara). However, there were important differences in the age and clinical patterns of severe disease; twice as many patients were under one year of age in Ifakara compared with Kilifi and there was a four fold higher rate of cerebral malaria and three fold lower rate of malaria anaemia among malaria patients at Kilifi compared with Ifakara. Reducing malaria transmission in Ifakara by 95%, for example with insecticide-treated bed nets, would result in a transmission setting comparable to that of Kilifi and although this reduction may yield early successes in reducing severe malaria morbidity and mortality in young, immunologically naive children, place these same children at increased risk at older ages of developing severe and potentially different manifestations of malaria infection hence producing no net cohort gain in survivorship from potentially fatal malaria. Hide abstract
Nine children with severe falciparum malaria were treated with an intravenous quinine regimen which did not require burettes or infusion pumps, to determine its practicability and to ensure that therapeutic drug concentrations were achieved and maintained throughout the dose interval. The regimen comprised quinine dihydrochloride (15 mg/kg; 12.5 mg/kg of the free base), which was added to a bag of intravenous fluid (after wastage of all but 100 mL), and given via standard giving sets over 2 h. Blood was drawn sequentially during the infusion, and for 12 h thereafter; plasma water was obtained by ultrafiltration of samples at the bedside, and quinine concentration was measured, in plasma and plasma water, by high performance liquid chromatography. Drug administration was practicable without burettes or infusion pumps; unbound drug concentrations exceeded the 99% inhibitory concentration for local parasites within 0.5 h, and remained within the therapeutic range for the entire dose interval. This loading dose regimen can now be recommended for young children in African hospitals; maintenance doses of 10 mg/kg should be given at 12 h intervals until oral antimalarial drugs are possible. These recommendations will need to be modified if susceptibility to quinine declines. Hide abstract
Afr J Health Sci, 1 (2), pp. 71-75. Read abstract1994. The role of the district hospital in child survival at the Kenyan Coast.
Strategies for improving child survivorship in sub-Saharan Africa by the year 2000 have focused on low-cost, peripheral preventative and curative activities often with little reference to essential clinical services offered by hospitals at the district level. However, the recent World Bank World Development Report has re-emphasised the potential of district hospitals within selective PHC activities. We have estimated the likely impact of in-patient care offered by a rural district hospital on the Kenyan coast on under 5's mortality through comprehensive demographic and hospital surveillance. Within this population, childhood mortality may have been reduced by 44% as a result of hospital in-patient care. Strengthened referral systems, improvements in hospital accessibility, and better hospital care should be an integral part of PHC and other health promotion activities in sub-Saharan Africa. Hide abstract
Computed tomography was performed on 14 unconscious Kenyan children recovering from cerebral malaria (seven of whom had another scan 12-120 days later) to elucidate the cause of intracranial hypertension and neurological sequelae. Brain swelling, defined as a loss of cerebrospinal fluid spaces, was documented in six children, while a further two had conspicuously small ventricles only. There was severe intracranial hypertension in the two children with definite brain swelling in whom intracranial pressure was monitored. There was no evidence of acute hydrocephalus or vasogenic oedema. Four children with brain swelling also had widespread low density areas suggestive of ischaemic damage. The patterns of damage were not uniform but were consistent with a critical reduction in cerebral perfusion pressure (which was documented in the two in whom this was monitored), hypoglycaemia, or status epilepticus. All four had serious neurological sequelae. These data suggest that brain injury in cerebral malaria may be due in part to secondary systemic and intracranial factors as well as to the direct effect of intravascular sequestration. Hide abstract
Afr J Health Sci, 1 (1), pp. 20-26. Read abstract1994. Pharmacology of absorption and distribution: optimal use of antimalarial drugs in the treatment of severe falciparum malaria in Kenya.
Since 1989, a project at the KEMRI CRC Unit at Kilifi has focused on the design of appropriate and practicable regimens for the treatment of severe falciparum malaria. Initially, there was no data describing the absorption, distribution and elimination of quinine in Kenyan children, who constitute the great majority of patients. Pharmacokinetic studies were conducted to define these variables, which formed the basis for the design of appropriate and practicable treatment regimens. Even with optimal clinical management, the majority is high in cases of severe malaria treated with quinine at Kilifi. Alternative drugs have been studied in a search for a therapeutic regimen that will further reduce mortality. Hide abstract
Polymerase chain reaction amplification of several polymorphic genes has been used to study the population biology of Plasmodium falciparum. S antigen is particularly suitable for such studies, but difficulties in the amplification of this gene have precluded its use. Here we describe a simple method for the amplification of S antigen and show why previous attempts may have been unsuccessful. Data are presented from both laboratory and field isolates. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 49 (2), pp. 245-253. Read abstract1993. Low-level Plasmodium falciparum transmission and the incidence of severe malaria infections on the Kenyan coast.
The transmission of Plasmodium falciparum was studied in relation to the incidence of severe malaria infections at Sokoke and Kilifi town, Kilifi District, Kenya. Intensive mosquito sampling during a one-year period yielded Anopheles gambiae s.l., An. funestus, and An. coustani. Anopheles gambiae s.l. was the predominant vector, comprising 87.9% and 97.9% of the total anophelines collected in Sokoke and Kilifi town, respectively. The proportion of An. gambiae s.l. with P. falciparum sporozoite infections was 4.1% (20 of 491) in Sokoke and 2.2% (3 of 138) in Kilifi town; no infections were detected in An. funestus or in An. coustani. Entomologic inoculation rates indicated that residents were exposed to only 8.0 infective bites per year in Sokoke and 1.5 in Kilifi town. Transmission was detected during only six months in Sokoke and three months in Kilifi town despite low-level, year-round vector activity. The yearly incidence of severe P. falciparum infections in children, 1-4 years of age was 24.1 per 1,000 in Sokoke and 4.2 per 1,000 in Kilifi town. Monthly patterns of transmission corresponded closely with the incidence of severe infections. At these sites on the coast of Kenya, the spatial and temporal incidence of severe malaria infections is associated with low-level P. falciparum transmission by vector populations. Hide abstract
Verbal autopsies (VA) are frequently used to determine causes of death for individuals for whom there is no reliable clinical information regarding the terminal illness. VA interviews are used to note key symptoms and signs recalled by relatives of the deceased and diagnoses ascribed according to the symptom complexes. The VA technique assumes that individual disease entities have discrete symptom complexes and that these can be accurately recognized and recalled by the interviewees. We have examined the accuracy with which specific symptoms are recalled over time by mothers or normal guardians of 491 children who died on the paediatric wards of two district hospitals in East Africa. Kwashiorkor, measles, trauma, generalized convulsions and neonatal tetanus were all reported with a high degree of accuracy for children who died of these conditions and had low false positive rates for children without these conditions. Recall was similar within 1 month of death compared to recall after 6 months for most symptoms and signs except neonatal tetanus where false positive reports by mothers increased with time since death. Symptoms and signs commonly used to describe malaria, respiratory tract and diarrhoea-related deaths were reported by mothers to have been present during the terminal illness in 43% of cases where these features were absent. Recall abilities differed between the two communities studied for some symptoms and signs highlighting the importance of such studies in every setting where VA are applied. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 49 (1), pp. 106-112. Read abstract1993. Falciparum malaria: differential effects of antimalarial drugs on ex vivo parasite viability during the critical early phase of therapy.
A method of monitoring Plasmodium falciparum viability ex vivo was used to compare the ability of different antimalarial drugs to arrest the progression of young parasites to mature, potentially damaging stages. Neither pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine nor quinine, the treatment of choice for severe, life-threatening malaria, had a demonstrable effect on circulating parasites during the first 24 hr of therapy. In contrast, in vivo exposure to halofantrine for as little as six hours was sufficient to arrest parasite development. The method of assessing ex vivo parasite viability permits a comparison of antimalarial drug action at a time that may be critical for the therapy of life-threatening disease. If parenteral formulations of halofantrine prove to be safe and effective, they may have a role in the therapy of severe malaria. Hide abstract
Traditionally malaria epidemiology has focused on factors such as parasite rates and vector dynamics without specific reference to disease. There are limited comprehensive data on malaria as a life-threatening event in African children. We have identified, through hospital surveillance, 581 episodes of severe malaria in residents of a defined area on the Kenya coast over a period of 3 years. This represents an absolute minimum risk of developing severe malaria by the fifth birthday of 1 in 15. The presentation of severe malaria showed marked seasonality, but the timing and magnitude of these fluctuations varied considerably between years. A satellite navigational system was used to define the exact location of the home of each severe malaria case. Space-time clustering of severe malaria was evident in this community. Seasonal peaks in incidence of severe malaria may comprise discrete mini-epidemics. In contrast, parasite rates in the community varied little during the course of the surveillance. The monitoring of disease, as opposed to parasitization, in children may result in more effective targeting of intervention resources. Hide abstract
LANCET, 341 (8847), pp. 729-730. | Read more1993. MALARIA - PATARROYOS VACCINE
Lancet, 341 (8847), pp. 729-730. | Read more1993. Patarroyo's vaccine.
It has been suggested that sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SD/PM) may be useful in the treatment of severe malaria since it could enhance the killing of parasites by quinine (QN) and it can be given as a single intramuscular injection. Eighty Kenyan children with severe malaria were allocated at random to receive either intramuscular QN alone (quinine dihydrochloride 20 mg salt/kg as a loading dose, followed by 10 mg salt/kg 12 hourly for a total of 6 doses) or the same QN regimen plus one intramuscular injection of SD/PM (sulfadoxine 25 mg/kg, pyrimethamine 1.25 mg/kg). There was no difference in time to defervescence, aparasitaemia, or 50% reduction in parasitaemia, parasite elimination half-life, or mortality between the 2 groups. In addition, the concentrations of SD and PM were measured in 14 children and of QN in 8 of these children. Concentrations needed to achieve synergy against PM-resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum were achieved in all of the children with severe malaria within the first hour and maintained for more than 72 h. SD/PM did not perturb the pharmacokinetics of QN. Hide abstract
Young African children with severe malaria are given quinine using a regimen designed for Thai adults. We measured quinine in the blood, plasma and plasma water of young children in Kenya after rapid intravenous and intramuscular dosing, and calculated the therapeutic range of unbound quinine. The peak plasma quinine concentration after rapid intravenous dosing was 12.3 +/- 3.7 mg/L (mean +/- SD), 43% higher than in adults given the same regimen previously; this was due to a smaller apparent volume of distribution in the children. The therapeutic range of unbound quinine was calculated as 0.2-2.0 mg/L. Simulations of unbound quinine were made for the standard quinine regimen: unbound drug concentrations rose above the therapeutic range after each dose. The possible risks of quinine-induced visual impairment are discussed. Alternative, lower dose regimens for young African children with severe malaria are described. Hide abstract
JOURNAL OF CELLULAR BIOCHEMISTRY, pp. 329-329.1993. INTERACTIONS OF MALARIA-INFECTED ERYTHROCYTES WITH ICAM-1 AND VASCULAR ENDOTHELIUM
BRITISH JOURNAL OF HAEMATOLOGY, 84 pp. 9-9.1993. CLONAL VARIATION OF THE RED-CELL SURFACE PHENOTYPES IN MALARIA
There is mounting evidence that an important component of the host-protective immune response to Plasmodium falciparum is the antibody response to the altered surface of the infected erythrocyte. The nature of these surface changes and the responses to them have been difficult to analyse because of the diverse nature of the parasite-derived neoantigens (PDN) expressed, because of the additional presence of modified host determinants, and because of the lack of monospecific reagents. We have studied the reactivity of field isolates and laboratory clones with pooled or individual sera using a novel approach which obviates the need for specific antibody. We see marked diversity in PDN but in contrast to previous studies, we also find that the predominant agglutinating antibody response in humans is variant specific. Antibodies which cross-react between different serotypes are rare and react only with a subset of PDN types. These results have implications for mechanisms underlying the development of acquired immunity to P. falciparum. Hide abstract
Lancet, 340 (8824), pp. 917-918. | Read more1992. Blood transfusions for severe anaemia in African children.
The verbal autopsy (VA) is an epidemiological tool that is widely used to ascribe causes of death by interviewing bereaved relatives of children who were not under medical supervision at the time of death. This technique was assessed by comparison with a prospective survey of 303 childhood deaths at a district hospital in Kenya where medically confirmed diagnoses were available. Common causes of death were detected by VA with specificities greater than 80%. Sensitivity of the VA technique was greater than 75% for measles, neonatal tetanus, malnutrition, and trauma-related deaths; however, malaria, anaemia, acute respiratory-tract infection, gastroenteritis, and meningitis were detected with sensitivities of less than 50%. There may have been unwarranted optimism in the ability of VAs to detect some of the major causes of death, such as malaria, in African children. VA used in malaria-specific intervention trials should be interpreted with caution and only in the light of known sensitivities and specificities. Hide abstract
Adhesion of parasitized erythrocytes to post-capillary venular endothelium or uninfected red cells is strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Neoantigens at the infected red-cell surface adhere to a variety of host receptors, demonstrate serological diversity in field isolates and may also be a target of the host-protective immune response. Here we use sequential cloning of P. falciparum by micromanipulation to investigate the ability of a parasite to switch antigenic and cytoadherence phenotypes. Our data show that antigens at the parasitized cell surface undergo clonal variation in vitro in the absence of immune pressure at the rate of 2% per generation with concomitant modulations of the adhesive phenotype. A clone has the potential to switch at high frequency to a variety of antigenic and adhesive phenotypes, including a new type of cytoadherence behaviour, 'auto-agglutination' of infected erythrocytes. This rapid appearance of antigenic and functional heterogeneity has important implications for pathogenesis and acquired immunity. Hide abstract
J Trop Med Hyg, 95 (3), pp. 157-166. Read abstract1992. Case-control studies of severe malaria.
The majority of children infected with Plasmodium falciparum in areas of stable endemicity do not develop severe, life-threatening disease. It is important to identify risk factors for the minority who do. Case-control studies in which children with severe disease are compared with children with non-severe disease and with community controls, avoid some of the ethical and logistical problems inherent in such an undertaking. This paper discusses methodological aspects of case-control studies of severe malaria including case and control definitions, selection of cases and controls, potential risk factors, sample size calculations and analysis. Although specifically concerned with malaria, many of these issues are equally relevant to case-control studies of other infectious and parasitic diseases in a tropical environment. Hide abstract
A community survey of 388 mothers in a rural and peri-urban population surrounding a district hospital on the coast of Kenya revealed that the preferred choice of treatment for childhood febrile illnesses was with proprietary drugs bought over the counter at shops and kiosks (72% of interviews). 67% of the mothers who reported using shops claimed they would buy chloroquine-based drugs. Preventative measures such as mosquito nets were uncommon (6.2%), but the use of commercial pyrethrum mosquito coils was reported more frequently (46.4%). Separate investigations of treatment given to 394 children before presentation at hospital with severe and mild malaria was consistent with the reports in the community of high usage of shop-bought anti-malarials and anti-pyretics. The involvement of the private sector in peripheral health care delivery for malaria is discussed. Hide abstract
Verbal autopsies (VAs) are widely used to describe causes of death in individuals who die outside hospital or clinic settings. However, they have received surprisingly little validation. The technique assumes that diseases which cause death can be readily distinguished from one another by distinct syndromes, and that these can be reported accurately by lay respondents. This paper describes the potential problems of syndrome definition and the likely biases introduced through poor recognition and recall by bereaved relatives; how these may be tested; and finally, what can be done where the VA proves unable to identify cause of death. Hide abstract
1. A method is described for the measurement of phenobarbitone (PB) by reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography (h.p.l.c.) from small samples of whole blood dried onto filter paper strips. 2. The disposition of PB given prophylactically to young children with severe malaria on parenteral quinine is contrasted with that in aparasitaemic Kenyan children on no antimalarial drugs. There were no differences in the disposition of PB between the two groups. 3. Peak blood PB concentrations were equal to or greater than 15 mg l-1 in 27% of the patients on quinine and 23% of those not on quinine; a concentration of 10 mg l-1 was achieved or exceeded by 100% and 92% of each group, respectively, and was maintained for 39 +/- 24 h (mean +/- s.d.), and 33 +/- 21 h, respectively. 4. In an open, dose-finding study, the progress of young children with cerebral malaria given prophylactic PB (10 mg kg-1), was contrasted with that of controls given no seizure prophylaxis. 5. The drug had no apparent effect on depth or duration of coma, but neither was the incidence of seizures reduced. 6. A controlled trial of prophylactic PB in young children with cerebral malaria is needed, but a larger dose than 10 mg kg-1 should be studied. Hide abstract
Blood, 79 (3), pp. 798-807. Read abstract1992. Rheological analysis of the adhesive interactions of red blood cells parasitized by Plasmodium falciparum.
Adhesion of parasitized red blood cells (RBCs) to vascular endothelium is thought to be a key factor in the pathology of falciparum malaria. However, quantitative analyses of the intercellular forces and of the effects of flow on adhesion have been lacking. We have characterized cytoadhesion of RBCs parasitized by the strains ITO4 (which can bind to receptors ICAM-1 or CD36) and FCR3A2 (which can bind to CD36 only) using micropipette manipulation and flow chamber techniques. Target cells were unfixed or glutaraldehyde-fixed human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC, bearing ICAM-1 only) or human amelanotic melanoma cells (C32, bearing CD36 and ICAM-1). In the static, micropipette assay, 60% to 70% of parasitized cells would adhere when tested at up to three successive sites. The percentage of cells adhering and the force required for their detachment (approximately 10(-10) N) were similar for each combination of parasite strain and adhesion target (ITO4/HUVEC, ITO4/C32, FCR3A2/C32). In the flow chamber, efficiency of initial adhesion of parasitized cells was essentially constant (at about 1%) up to a stress of 0.1 Pa, and then decreased rapidly with increasing stress. Either receptor (ICAM-1 or CD36) could immobilize flowing cells at a physiologic flow stress (0.1 Pa), but the numbers of cells adhering varied for the different combinations (ITO4/C32 greater than ITO4/HUVEC greater than FCR3A2/C32). When flow was increased in steps, adhered cells were gradually washed off but many could withstand stresses at which they would not initially adhere. The force for detachment estimated in this way was similar to the pipette value, and again, was similar for the different combinations of strains and targets. Adhesion from flow depends on the affinity between surfaces being above a critical level, and once adhesion is established, the fracture energy determines resistance to disruption of adhesion. The results show that the fracture energy is greater than the affinity (ie, that adhesion becomes stabilized after it is initially established) and that the ratio of affinity to fracture energy is different for different receptor/ligand pairs, with ICAM-1 appearing to be the more efficient immobilizing receptor. Also, static and flow-based assays of adhesion clearly differ; the affinity is less critical in the static situation, so that most parasitized cells were capable of adhering in a static assay, but fewer did so under flow. Adhesiveness varied markedly from cell to cell, both for targets and parasitized cells.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS) Hide abstract
1. H.p.l.c. methods are described for the measurement of pyrimethamine and sulphadoxine in small volumes of plasma dried on filter paper strips. 2. Pyrimethamine/sulphadoxine (Fansidar, Hoffman LaRoche) was given by mouth and by intramuscular injection to children with uncomplicated falciparum malaria but with high parasitaemia (n = 8 for both routes; pyrimethamine 1.25 mg kg-1, sulphadoxine 25 mg kg-1). 3. Plasma concentrations of pyrimethamine and sulphadoxine associated with synergistic effects against pyrimethamine-resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum in vitro were achieved within 1 h of administration and were maintained beyond the end of sampling. 4. After both oral and parenteral administration the plasma concentrations of both compounds were lower than those predicted by data from healthy subjects. 5. Areas under the plasma concentration-time curves of sulphadoxine after oral and i.m. administration did not differ significantly, although maximum plasma drug concentrations were higher after the i.m. route (P = 0.03). 6. The AUC values of pyrimethamine did not differ significantly between the two routes of administration. However, after i.m. administration AUC(0,24 h) values were smaller (P = 0.03), and the time to maximum plasma drug concentration (tmax) was longer (P = 0.004) than when the drug was given orally. Hide abstract
The intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1, CD54) is one of three putative endothelial receptors that mediate in vitro cytoadherence of P. falciparum-infected erythrocytes. Since cytoadherence to postcapillary venular endothelium is thought to be a major factor in the virulence of P. falciparum malaria, we have examined the interaction between ICAM-1 and the P. falciparum-infected cell, and have compared it with the interaction to the physiological counter receptor, the leukocyte integrin LFA-1. Our results demonstrate that the malaria-binding site resides in the first two domains of the ICAM-1 molecule and overlaps, but is distinct from, the LFA-1 site. Hide abstract
In situations where malaria eradication is not an option in the foreseeable future the emphasis must be on the control of morbidity and mortality due to malaria. Under such circumstances drawing a distinction between malarial parasitization and malarial disease may be important for workers in both field and laboratory. This concept is explored from the points of view of the epidemiological picture of malaria in endemic populations, the factors which may influence progression to disease and the processes which mediate disease. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 45 (6), pp. 702-713. Read abstract1991. Quinine treatment of severe falciparum malaria in African children: a randomized comparison of three regimens.
The pharmacokinetics and effectiveness of three dosage regimens of quinine were studied in a group of 59 children with severe malaria. The children were randomized to receive high-dose intravenous or intramuscular quinine (20 mg salt/kg loading, then 10 mg salt/kg every 12 hr), or low-dose intravenous quinine (10 mg salt/kg loading, then 5 mg salt/kg every 12 hr). In the group receiving the high-dose intravenous regimen, mean high and low quinine concentrations were consistently greater than 10 and 6.5 mg/l, respectively. Peak concentrations as well as the time required to achieve them were similar in the intramuscular and high-dose intravenous groups. The low-dose intravenous quinine regimen resulted in mean peak concentrations greater than 6 mg/l and mean low concentrations greater than 3.5 mg/l. All blood concentrations exceeded the 99% in vitro inhibitory concentration (EC99) of 0.89 mg/l or less of quinine for 60 isolates of Plasmodium falciparum, which were taken from children with malaria during the same period. Judged by a number of clinical criteria, the response was better in patients receiving the high-dose than the low-dose intravenous regimen. The time taken to clear parasites with both the high-dose intravenous and intramuscular regimens were significantly shorter than those obtained in the low-dose group. We have also shown for the first time that the rate of parasite clearance can be directly related to the area under the quinine concentration versus time curve. This applied to all three quinine regimens (r = 0.4252, P less than 0.02; n less than or equal to 35). Five patients, two on the low-dose regimen, two on the intramuscular regimen, and one on the high-dose regimen, developed hypoglycemia after admission, but in these cases, insulin concentrations were correspondingly low. No significant quinine toxicity was observed in any of the cases. The high-dose intravenous quinine regimen described here may be optimal for treatment of severe falciparum malaria in areas of chloroquine resistance in Africa. Our data provide no justification for reducing the dose of quinine in the treatment of severe malaria in Africa. The intramuscular regimen could provide a satisfactory alternative in areas where intravenous administration might be delayed or is impossible. Hide abstract
We have attempted to determine the cellular mechanism by which alpha-thalassaemia may protect against Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Invasion and development of P. falciparum in the microcytic red cells of two-gene deletion forms of alpha-thalassaemia when measured morphologically or by [3H]hypoxanthine incorporation were normal compared to controls. Normal invasion rates were also observed following schizogony in thalassaemic red cells. Neither the addition of the oxidant menadione, 30% oxygen, nor modified medium, produced differential damage to parasites within thalassaemic cells. Furthermore, there were no significant differences in the binding of P. falciparum-parasitized alpha-thalassaemic and normal cells to C32 melanoma cells in vitro. However, when neoantigen expression on the surface of infected thalassaemic cells was estimated using a quantitative radiometric antiglobulin assay, clear differences were observed. It was found that alpha-thalassaemic cells bound higher levels of antibody from serum obtained from individuals living in a malaria endemic area than control normal red cells. The binding ratio for thalassaemic compared with controls was 1.69 on a cell-for-cell basis, and 1.97 when related to surface area. The binding of antibody from immune serum increased exponentially during parasite maturation. We also found increased binding of naturally occurring antibody present in non-immune serum to parasitized thalassaemic red cells which also increased during parasite maturation. We conclude that the protection afforded by thalassaemia against malaria may not reside in the ability of parasites to enter, grow or cytoadhere to endothelium in such cells, but may be related to immune recognition and subsequent clearance of parasitized red cells. Hide abstract
Malaria is still a major cause of death and severe illness among children in many parts of tropical Africa, but only a small proportion of children, perhaps 1-2%, who become ill with malaria develop severe disease. Why only, some children experience a severe or fatal attack is not understood clearly. In this article, Brian Greenwood, Kevin Marsh and Robert Snow review some of those characteristics of the parasite and the host that may influence the outcome of a malaria infection. Identification of the relative importance of the many factors likely to be involved is needed in order to develop rational strategies for the prevention of deaths from malaria among children in malaria-endemic areas. Hide abstract
Blood, 78 (1), pp. 226-236. Read abstract1991. Characterization and localization of Plasmodium falciparum surface antigens on infected erythrocytes from west African patients.
The malaria-induced surface antigens on Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes from West African patients were characterized by agglutination of infected cells by human sera, surface immunofluorescence of live infected cells, inhibition of cytoadherence to C32 melanoma cells by human sera, immunoelectron microscopy (immunoEM), and immunoprecipitation. In a nonimmune individual, serum antibody reactivity to surface antigens of infected cells was acquired during convalescence, as tested by all five methods, and was generally parasite isolate-specific. By contrast, adult hyperimmune West African sera reacted with many isolates, including isolates from geographically distinct regions. A quantitative correlation was established between agglutination and surface immunofluorescence assay titers, and between surface immunofluorescence assay and immunoEM reactivity, suggesting that a single antigen or a set of coexpressed antigens is being detected. Surface iodination of infected cells identified trypsin-sensitive high M, antigens in the sodium dodecyl sulfate extract. All sera tested that agglutinated infected cells also immunoprecipitated these antigens. The same surface antigens were immunoprecipitated by the homologous convalescent serum as by adult sera. By immunoEM these antigens were localized exclusively at the knob-like protrusions of infected cells, where they may participate in adherence to vascular endothelium. Hide abstract
Arch Dis Child, 66 (6), pp. 753. | Read more1991. Retinal haemorrhages in falciparum malaria.
LANCET, 337 (8752), pp. 1282-1283.1991. CEREBRAL MALARIA - REPLY
In an attempt to determine the mechanism whereby thalassemia in its milder forms may protect against malaria, we have examined the expression of neoantigen at the surface of Plasmodium falciparum-parasitized thalassemic red cells. Neoantigen expression was estimated by measurement of antibody bound after incubation in serum from adults living in a malaria-endemic area, using a quantitative radiometric antiglobulin assay. We found that P. falciparum-parasitized alpha- and beta-thalassemic red cells bind greater levels of antibody from endemic serum than controls: mean binding ratios (+/- SE), respectively, for alpha- and beta-thalassemia compared with controls were 1.69 +/- 0.12 and 1.23 +/- 0.06 on a cell for cell basis, and 1.97 +/- 0.11 and 1.47 +/- 0.08 after a correction for surface area differences. Binding of antibody increased exponentially during parasite maturation. In addition, we found a small but significant degree of binding of naturally occurring antibody to parasitized red cells, the extent of which was also greater in thalassemia. The apparent protective effect of thalassemia against malaria may be related to enhanced immune recognition and hence clearance of parasitized erythrocytes. Hide abstract
Opening lumbar cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure was measured with a paediatric spinal fluid manometer in 26 of 61 Kenyan children (mean age 39 months) with cerebral malaria. In all cases pressure was above normal (mean [SD]22.6 [7.4] cm CSF, range 10.5-36). Clinical features of our patients suggest that intracranial hypertension is important in the pathogenesis of cerebral malaria in children, especially as a cause of death. We suggest that raised intracranial pressure is secondary to increased cerebral blood volume. Lowering intracranial pressure may significantly reduce the mortality and morbidity of cerebral malaria. The potential risks and benefits of lumbar puncture should be considered carefully in patients with suspected cerebral malaria. Hide abstract
IMMUNOPARASITOLOGY TODAY-A COMBINED ISSUE OF IMMUNOLOGY TODAY AND PARASITOLOGY TODAY, (3), pp. A68-A71.1991. NATURALLY ACQUIRED-IMMUNITY TO PLASMODIUM-FALCIPARUM
Pneumocystis pneumonia is rarely identified in the many immunosuppressed individuals with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and malnutrition in Africa. To test whether infection with Pneumocystis carinii occurs in the continent we conducted a comparative serological study, measuring by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay antibodies to the parasite in 150 healthy young individuals from both Britain and the Gambian savanna. The prevalence of significant titres of antibody to P. carinii steadily increased with age and included more than 70% of both populations by 8 years of age. Infection with P. carinii is, therefore, common in the Gambia. Thus opportunistic pneumocystis pneumonia may be an important but largely unrecognized disease in the continent, though its impact is probably diminished by the prevalence of fatal tuberculous infection, particularly in the AIDS population. Hide abstract
In this article Chris Newbold and Kevin Marsh describe the evidence for the co-existence of both modified host proteins and of parasite determinants at the infected erythrocyte surface. The stable characteristics of infected cells may in part stem from parasite-induced changes in band 3 molecules, thus explaining some of the cytoadherence properties of uninfected, but abnormal cells (as in sickle-cell disease and diabetes). However, Newbold and Marsh suggest that it is difficult to explain the astonishing diversity of antigens that have been observed at the surface of infected red cells unless such molecules have been synthesized by the parasite. Hide abstract
Children living in hyperendemic malarious regions have high immunoglobulin levels and an increased frequency of Burkitt's lymphoma. In a study of Gambian children which endeavours to explain these findings we showed that acute P. falciparum malaria caused spontaneous activation and growth of their B lymphocytes in vitro. A high proportion of these cells contained Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen (EBNA). In ancillary experiments aimed at explaining these findings. CD4 helper cells from adult donors were destroyed with monoclonal antibody and complement. This manoeuvre resulted in loss of cytotoxic T cell control of their B lymphocytes when infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). In children with acute malaria, both spontaneous immunoglobulin and antibody production by B cells was increased yet CD4 helper cell control over these cells, as measured by responses to pokeweed mitogen, was found to be intact. Spontaneous and concanavalin A-driven lymphocyte proliferation was depressed. We infer from these findings that in patients with P. falciparum malaria loss of cytotoxic T cell control of the EBV in B cells, possibly due to destruction or dysfunction of a subset of CD4 cells responsible for induction of suppressor/cytotoxic CD8 cells, leads to activation and proliferation of foci of B cells containing EBV. The expanded pool and rapid turnover of these cells may increase chances of malignant transformation leading to the genesis of Burkitt's tumor. Partial loss of suppressor mechanisms coupled with normal CD4 helper/inducer activity may result in high serum levels of immunoglobulin which are characteristic of persons living in malarious regions. Hide abstract
Infect Immun, 58 (1), pp. 214-216. Read abstract1990. Tumor necrosis factor production by human macrophages stimulated in vitro by Plasmodium falciparum.
Production of tumor necrosis factor by human macrophages may be induced in vitro by cytoadherent and noncytoadherent strains of Plasmodium falciparum, with an optimal ratio of one to three parasitized erythrocytes per macrophage. Centrifuged and heated crude culture supernatants have the same effect, thus showing the existence of a thermostable soluble factor able to induce this expression. In vitro kinetic experiments have shown that the secretion of tumor necrosis factor appears early, with a maximal peak at 8 h. Hide abstract
Variation in the immunodominant T cell epitopes Th2R and Th3R of the Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein has been analysed from Gambian clinical isolates using the polymerase chain reaction. The degree of polymorphism in these epitopes is more extensive than that found in several geographically diverse laboratory isolates. These findings strongly suggest that it will not be feasible to include all variants in a polyvalent subunit sporozoite vaccine. Hide abstract
The primary event in the pathogenesis of severe malaria in Plasmodium falciparum infection is thought to be adherence of trophozoite- and schizont-infected erythrocytes to capillary endothelium, a process called sequestration. Identifying the endothelial molecules used as receptors is an essential step in understanding this disease process. Recent work implicates the membrane glycoprotein CD36 (platelet glycoprotein IV; refs 2-5) and the multi-functional glycoprotein thrombospondin as receptors. Although CD36 has a widespread distribution on microvascular endothelium, it may not be expressed on all capillary beds where sequestration occurs, especially in the brain. The role of thrombospondin in cell adhesion, in vitro or in vivo, is less certain. We have noticed that some parasites bind to human umbilical-vein endothelial cells independently of CD36 or thrombospondin. To screen for alternative receptors, we have developed a novel cell-adhesion assay using transfected COS cells, which confirms that CD36 is a cell-adhesion receptor. In addition, we find that an endothelial-binding line of P. falciparum binds to COS cells transfected with a complementary DNA encoding intercellular adhesion molecule-1. As this molecule is widely distributed on capillaries and is inducible, this finding may be relevant to the pathogenesis of severe malaria. Hide abstract
PARASITOLOGY TODAY, 5 (8), pp. 232-234. | Read more1989. THE BRITISH-SOCIETY FOR PARASITOLOGY MALARIA MEETING
Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies were performed in a rural population living in The Gambia to examine the relationship between several in vitro assays of the host immune response to asexual stages of Plasmodium falciparum and protection from malaria in vivo. Assays included an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for antibodies to schizont antigens; an indirect immunofluorescence assay for total antiblood-stage antibodies; an immunofluorescence assay on glutaraldehyde-fixed parasites to detect antibodies to antigen Pf 155; an assay for serum inhibition of red blood cell invasion; a micro-agglutination assay to detect antibodies to neo-antigens on the surface of infected red blood cells; and an assay using polymorphonuclear leucocytes to detect antibodies capable of opsonizing schizont infected red blood cells. There were marked differences in the age-related pattern of response for different assays performed on sera obtained at a cross-sectional survey of 280 individuals. Examination of the correlation between the various immune responses and malariometric indices at the population level and at the individual level provided no evidence that any of the in vitro assays were related to protective immunity. The relationship between in vitro measurements of the anti-malarial immune response and protection from clinical episodes of malaria was examined in a group of 134 children aged 11 years and under who were monitored weekly throughout an entire malaria transmission season. The only immune factor to show a consistent protective effect against clinical malaria was the titre of antibodies to neo-antigens on the infected erythrocyte surface (P = 0.01). The same longitudinal techniques were used to examine the effect of two non-immunological factors, sickle cell trait and mosquito net usage, both of which showed significant protection against clinical episodes and malaria. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 40 (2), pp. 119-127. Read abstract1989. Studies of the receptors on melanoma cells for Plasmodium falciparum infected erythrocytes.
We investigated whether thrombospondin plays a role in the binding of Plasmodium falciparum parasitized erythrocytes to C32 melanoma cells. Twelve patient isolates bound variably to melanoma cells, with good correlation between the degree of binding to cells and binding to thrombospondin. With a synchronous preparation of asexual parasites, acquisition of the capacity to bind to thrombospondin occurred at the same parasite stage as binding to melanoma cells. Development of parasites to trophozoites and schizonts correlated with binding of parasitized erythrocytes to thrombospondin and melanoma cells. The infected erythrocyte receptor for thrombospondin was destroyed by mild trypsinization, as was the receptor for melanoma cells. Although these results suggest similarity in the melanoma cell receptor and thrombospondin receptor for infected cells, other results showed that thrombospondin cannot alone be the melanoma cell receptor. Binding to other melanoma cell lines did not correlate with thrombospondin secretion: the RPMI 8252 and G361 cell lines bound few or no infected cells, yet secreted 50-100% as much thrombospondin as C32 cells. Iodinated thrombospondin bound in similar amounts to C32 cells and to noncytoadherent C361 melanoma cells. Binding and nonbinding melanoma cells did not differ in quantity of surface thrombospondin by radioimmunoassay. Thus, although purified, immobilized, thrombospondin binds parasitized erythrocytes, expression of thrombospondin alone on melanoma cells is not sufficient to mediate adherence. Hide abstract
As a consequence of gene cloning and DNA sequencing several gene families are emerging in the field of cell-cell recognition. These include immunoglobulins, integrins, certain extracellular glycoproteins and a family of functionally unrelated proteins which include factor B. We report here the cloning and sequencing of a gene from Plasmodium falciparum, coding for a protein we call thrombospondin related anonymous protein (TRAP), which shares certain sequence motifs common to other well-characterized proteins. The most significant homology is based around the sequence Trp-Ser-Pro-Cys-Ser-Val-Thr-Cys-Gly (WSPCSVTCG), present in three copies in region I of thrombospondin (TSP), six copies in properdin (P) and one copy in all the circumsporozoite (CS) proteins sequenced so far. TRAP also shares with certain extracellular glycoproteins, including TSP, the cell-recognition signal Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD), which has been shown to be crucial in the interaction of several extracellular glycoproteins with members of the integrin superfamily. Unlike the CS protein, TRAP is expressed during the erythrocytic stage of the parasite life cycle. Hide abstract
A conserved repeated epitope, (NANP)3, of the circumsporozoite protein of Plasmodium falciparum has been identified previously as a putative target for artificially induced immunity to malaria. We examined the role of humoral responses to this epitope in acquired immunity to malaria in a rural African population. Seropositivity to (NANP)3 was slow to develop (9% positive in subjects aged 1-11 years; 88% in those of 30 years and above), and responses in younger subjects were transient. The poor response in younger subjects did not appear to be due to immunosuppression by concomitant blood stage parasitization. The relationship between levels of anti-(NANP)3 antibodies and parasitaemia changed from positive to negative with age. 126 subjects age 1-11 years were followed through an entire transmission season; those who were seropositive at the beginning ended the season with lower parasite rates (20% vs 59%) and experienced fewer episodes of clinical malaria (0.43 vs 0.67). However, the trend towards increasing susceptibility to clinical malaria in subjects entering the transmission season with lower levels of anti-(NANP)3 antibodies was modest, and combined cross-sectional and longitudinal data indicated that the humoral response to (NANP)3 did not play a major role in the development of immunity to clinical malaria in the population we studied. Hide abstract
At a conservative estimate there are about 100 million cases of malaria in the world each year. Recent community based studies in West Africa give credence to the oft quoted, but previously poorly substantiated, estimate of a million childhood deaths a year in sub-saharan Africa alone. Malaria, particularly Plasmodium falciparum, remains a major killer of the world's children. The postwar successes in eradicating malaria from a number of temperate and subtropical areas reached a limit set not only by logistic problems, escalating costs, and growing insecticide resistance but also by natural epidemiological factors. Malaria could never have been eradicated from its heartland in tropical Africa, even with the optimum use of the measures available at that time. The present situation is not even stable. The combination of rapidly emerging multidrug resistance, social and political dislocation in some countries, and unplanned urbanisation in others is a cause for real worry. New approaches are needed to bolster currently available control measures and an antimalarial vaccine has become the holy grail of malaria research. Hide abstract
An in vitro model of Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cell sequestration which uses C32 amelanotic melanoma cells as targets has been used to examine the binding capacity of infected red blood cells from subjects with naturally acquired P. falciparum infections of varying severity. The binding of infected red blood cells (IRBCs) to melanoma cells was specific to cells containing mature parasites. Variations in target cell density and in conditions of growth had significant effects on binding. Binding was pH dependent, being maximum at a pH of 6.9. Using standardized conditions the binding capacity of individual isolates of P. falciparum could be measured with a high degree of reproducibility. Binding capacity of IRBCs from 51 subjects between the ages of 6 months and 15 years varied between 12 and 1254 IRBCs per 100 melanoma cells when RBC suspensions at a 1% parasitemia and 4% hematocrit were used. Variation in binding was not related to the level of peripheral parasitemia of the isolate or to differences in adaptation to culture conditions. The binding capacity of parasitized cells from subjects with cerebral malaria did not differ from that of IRBCs from subjects with less serious clinical manifestations. Hide abstract
Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes were metabolically labeled with tritiated glucosamine. Lipid extracts were analyzed by high-performance thin-layer chromatography to compare labeled molecules of eleven isolates from patients, six cytoadherent in vitro strains, and two knobbed and two knobless strains from Aotus monkeys. Up to nineteen labeled bands were identified. Glycolipid GL1, previously identified in Malayan Camp, was present in all isolates and strains. Other molecules, between CG and GM1 and between GM1 and GD1a, varied in mobility or presence. There was no apparent association between labeled molecules and the presence of knobs or the property of cytoadherence. Hide abstract
Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes (IRBC) synthesize 3 histidine-rich proteins: HRP-I or the knob-associated HRP, HRP-II and HRP-III or SHARP. In order to distinguish these proteins immunochemically we prepared monoclonal antibodies which react with HRP-I, HRP-II and HRP-III, and rabbit antisera against synthetic peptides derived from the HRP-II and HRP-III sequences. A comparative analysis of diverse P. falciparum parasites was made using these antibodies and immunoprecipitation or Western blotting. HRP-I (Mr 80,000-115,000) was identified in all knob-positive P. falciparum parasites including isolates examined directly from Gambian patients. However, this protein was of lower abundance in these isolates and in 6 knob-positive, culture-adapted parasites compared to Aotus monkey-adapted parasites or culture-adapted parasites studied previously. HRP-II (Mr 60,000-105,000) was identified in all P. falciparum parasites regardless of knob-phenotype, and was recovered from culture supernatants as a secreted water-soluble protein. Within IRBC, HRP-II was found as a complex of several closely spaced bands. Cell surface radio-iodination of IRBC from several isolates and immunoprecipitation with a rabbit antiserum against the HRP-II repeat sequence identified HRP-II as a surface-exposed protein. Like HRP-I, the abundance of HRP-II was lower in the Gambian isolates than with Aotus monkey-adapted parasites studied earlier. Neither HRP-I nor HRP-II were identified in a knob-positive isolate of P. malariae collected from a Gambian patient. Analogues of these HRP were also absent from asexual parasites of diverse primate and murine malaria species screened with this panel of antibodies. HRP-III (Mr 40,000-55,000) was distinguished by its lower apparent size and by specific reaction with rabbit antibody against its 5-mer repeat sequence. HRP-III was of lowest abundance compared with the other two HRP. These antibody reagents and distinguishing properties should prove useful in studies on the separate functions of the 3 P. falciparum HRP. Hide abstract
Ann Trop Paediatr, 7 (3), pp. 187-189. Read abstract1987. The accuracy of the clinical histories given by mothers of seriously ill African children.
The mothers of 87 Gambian children with a potentially fatal illness were interviewed at the time that their children were admitted to hospital and attempts were made to establish a diagnosis using the mothers' history alone. In 66 cases (76%) initial diagnoses corresponded to the diagnoses established finally by clinical and laboratory investigations. Diagnoses established at second interviews held with 51 mothers 1 month after their children had left hospital were accurate in 88% of cases. Gambian mothers can describe accurately a serious illness in their children and they can, therefore, be relied upon to give accurate information about an illness from which a child has died. Hide abstract
This report describes the fine structure of the erythrocytic stages of Plasmodium malariae. Erythrocytic parasites from a naturally acquired human infection and an experimentally infected chimpanzee were morphologically indistinguishable and structurally similar to other primate malarias. New findings included observations of highly structured arrays of merozoite surface coat proteins in the cytoplasm of early schizonts and on the surface of budding merozoites and the presence of knobs in the membranes of Maurer's clefts. Morphological evidence is presented suggesting that proteins are transported between the erythrocyte surface and intracellular parasites via two routes: one associated with Maurer's clefts for transport of membrane-associated knob material and a second associated with caveolae in the host cell membrane for the import or export of host- or parasite-derived substances through the erythrocyte cytoplasm. Hide abstract
Lancet, 1 (8544), pp. 1261. | Read more1987. Prognostic value of CSF lactate in cerebral malaria.
The profound changes in the morphology, antigenicity, and functional properties of the host erythrocyte membrane induced by intraerythrocytic parasites of the human malaria Plasmodium falciparum are poorly understood at the molecular level. We have used mouse mAbs to identify a very large malarial protein (Mr approximately 300,000) that is exported from the parasite and deposited on the cytoplasmic face of the erythrocyte membrane. This protein is denoted P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 2 (Pf EMP 2). The mAbs did not react with the surface of intact infected erythrocytes, nor was Pf EMP 2 accessible to exogenous proteases or lactoperoxidase-catalyzed radioiodination of intact cells. The mAbs also had no effect on in vitro cytoadherence of infected cells to the C32 amelanotic melanoma cell line. These properties distinguish Pf EMP 2 from Pf EMP 1, the cell surface malarial protein of similar size that is associated with the cytoadherent property of P. falciparum-infected erythrocytes. The mAbs did not react with Pf EMP 1. In one strain of parasite there was a significant difference in relative mobility of the 125I-surface-labeled Pf EMP 1 and the biosynthetically labeled Pf EMP 2, further distinguishing these proteins. By cryo-thin-section immunoelectron microscopy we identified organelles involved in the transit of Pf EMP through the erythrocyte cytoplasm to the internal face of the erythrocyte membrane where the protein is associated with electron-dense material under knobs. These results show that the intraerythrocytic malaria parasite has evolved a novel system for transporting malarial proteins beyond its own plasma membrane, through a vacuolar membrane and the host erythrocyte cytoplasm to the erythrocyte membrane, where they become membrane bound and presumably alter the properties of this membrane to the parasite's advantage. Hide abstract
Hypoglycaemia, defined as a plasma glucose concentration below 2.2 mmol/l, developed in 15 of 47 prospectively studied Gambian children with severe chloroquine-sensitive falciparum malaria. 5 of these hypoglycaemic children died compared with 1 in the normoglycaemic group (p = 0.02). In contrast to previous observations in quinine-treated adults, in whom hypoglycaemia was associated with hyperinsulinaemia, plasma concentrations of insulin were appropriately low and plasma ketones were high. Raised plasma concentrations of lactate and alanine suggested impairment of hepatic gluconeogenesis. In African children, hypoglycaemia is an important and treatable manifestation of severe malaria and is unrelated to antimalarial treatment. Hide abstract
Am J Trop Med Hyg, 36 (2), pp. 228-233. Read abstract1987. Thrombospondin binding by parasitized erythrocyte isolates in falciparum malaria.
Toward understanding the pathogenesis of vascular sequestration in falciparum malaria, we investigated binding of Plasmodium falciparum parasitized erythrocyte isolates to thrombospondin and other adhesive proteins. Blood samples with rings from 12 patients with falciparum malaria were cultured 30 hr until parasites were mature trophozoites and schizonts. All parasitized erythrocyte isolates bound to thrombospondin, but not to fibronectin, laminin, vitronectin, or factor VIII/von Willebrand factor. Parasitized erythrocyte binding varied among isolates, ranging from 192 to 6,725 per mm2, average 2,953. There was good correlation between trophozoite plus schizont % parasitemia and thrombospondin binding (r = 0.884, P less than 0.001). In two patients with stupor, 3,642 and 2,864 parasitized erythrocytes bound per mm2, in proportion to parasitemia, suggesting cerebral malaria is not due to increased binding affinity. These results indicate there is a conserved function among isolates from this geographic region, known to be antigenically diverse at the parasitized erythrocyte membrane surface. These results support the hypothesis that specific binding to an endothelial receptor, possibly involving thrombospondin, plays a role in vascular sequestration in falciparum malaria. Hide abstract
Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 81 (3), pp. 514-515. | Read more1987. Absence of crisis form factor in subjects immune to Plasmodium falciparum in The Gambia, West Africa.
Mortality and morbidity from malaria were measured among 3000 children under the age of 7 years in a rural area of The Gambia, West Africa. Using a post-mortem questionnaire technique, malaria was identified as the probable cause of 4% of infant deaths and of 25% of deaths in children aged 1 to 4 years. The malaria mortality rate was 6.3 per 1000 per year in infants and 10.7 per 1000 per year in children aged 1 to 4 years. Morbidity surveys suggested that children under the age of 7 years experienced about one clinical episode of malaria per year. Calculation of attributable fractions showed that malaria may be responsible for about 40% of episodes of fever in children. Although the overall level of parasitaemia showed little seasonal variation, the clinical impact of malaria was highly seasonal; all malaria deaths and a high proportion of febrile episodes were recorded during a limited period at the end of the rainy season. Hide abstract
A study was undertaken in the Farafenni area of The Gambia to determine the relation between morbidity from malaria in children and the use of bed-nets (mosquito-nets). From comparisons of parasite and spleen rates in bed-net users and in non-users it seemed that bed-nets had a strong protective effect. However, the prevalence of malaria in the study population was also influenced by ethnic group and place of residence, and the association of bed-net use with these two confounding factors accounted for some of the differences observed between bed-net users and non-users. Nevertheless, a significant inverse correlation between splenomegaly and the use of bed-nets remained. This suggests that bed-nets give Gambian children some protection against malaria and that the use of bed-nets, either untreated or treated with an insecticide such as permethrin, should be investigated further as a means of malaria control in Africa. Hide abstract
We have compared the surface radio-iodinated proteins of uninfected and Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes from natural infections of human patients. Cryopreserved infected blood from Gambian children with falciparum malaria was thawed, cultured to the middle trophozoite stage, and surface radio-iodinated. Trophozoite-infected cells were enriched about 10-fold on a Percoll gradient newly designed to separate cells based on their differential permeability to sorbitol. Infected blood was radio-iodinated and erythrocytes from the fraction enriched in parasitized cells and uninfected erythrocytes from the same sample obtained from the gradient and compared by SDS-PAGE and autoradiography. In each sample, parasitized erythrocytes contained one or more polypeptides of very high molecular weight (Mr 250 000-300 000) that were not found on uninfected erythrocytes from the same patient. These proteins were isolate-specific in size and number, suggesting that natural isolates contain a variable number of different P. falciparum phenotypes for this surface protein. In addition, these radio-iodinated surface proteins could not be extracted from the host cell membrane by the non-ionic detergent Triton X-100, but were extracted by SDS. The properties of these proteins suggest they are the equivalent for natural infections of the strain-dependent antigen previously described (Leech, Barnwell, Miller & Howard, 1984) on the surface of P. falciparum-infected Aotus erythrocytes. In addition, we observed a second parasite-dependent modification of labelled proteins on infected erythrocytes with the appearance of a new band of Mr 30 000. There were also variations in the pattern of radio-isotope labelled proteins on uninfected erythrocytes from different patients. Hide abstract
CLINICAL RESEARCH, 34 (2), pp. A723-A723.1986. PARASITIZED ERYTHROCYTE BINDING TO THROMBOSPONDIN IN FALCIPARUM-MALARIA
Red blood cells that are infected with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum express new antigens on their surface. In a study of these antigens in the erythrocytes of naturally infected children in the Gambia, an antibody-mediated agglutination assay revealed an extreme degree of antigenic diversity. Serum samples from each of ten children in the convalescent stage of malaria infection reacted with infected cells from the same child but generally not with infected cells from the other children. The Gambian children's erythrocytes also expressed shared determinants: sera from Gambian adults often reacted with the surface of infected cells from all of the children and were shown by adsorption and elution experiments to contain antibodies that recognized several isolates. Conserved determinants exposed on infected erythrocytes may be important for development of antimalarial immunity either naturally or through vaccination. Hide abstract
Clin Exp Immunol, 63 (1), pp. 135-140. Read abstract1986. Inhibition of Plasmodium falciparum growth by IgG antibody produced by human lymphocytes transformed with Epstein-Barr virus.
Supernatants from Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)--stimulated B lymphocytes obtained from two adult Gambians who were partially immune to malaria markedly inhibited the growth of Plasmodium falciparum in vitro (55-95% inhibition). When 22 separate colonies were derived by micromanipulation from one of these primary cultures and their supernatants assayed, the degree of inhibition correlated with levels of IgG fluorescent antibody and total IgG. The inhibitory anti-P. falciparum IgG immunoprecipitated an antigen of mol. wt 195,000, identified as the major schizont surface glycoprotein by dual biosynthetic labelling with 3H-glucosamine or 35S-methionine. Other studies on the analogous schizont surface protein of rodent malarias have shown that this antigen stimulates protective immunity. Production of this inhibitory antibody by adult Gambians may therefore contribute to their immunity to malaria. Human antibodies produced by EBV-stimulated B lymphocytes may be used to identify other important P. falciparum antigens and have potential applications for immunotherapy. Hide abstract
A panel of monoclonal antibodies has been shown previously to identify both serologically diverse and serologically conserved epitopes on a major polymorphic surface protein of P. falciparum schizonts from culture-adapted isolates. The molecular nature of the antigen recognized by eight of these monoclonal antibodies was studied with three isolates analyzed directly from patients in The Gambia. Malarial (glyco) proteins were labelled by biosynthetic uptake of 3H-glucosamine or 3H-leucine during culture of ring-stage parasites from infected blood to the late-trophozoite/early-schizont stage (26-30 h). Those monoclonal antibodies which reacted positively with an isolate by indirect immunofluorescence also immunoprecipitated a single 3H-leucine or 3H-glucosamine labelled antigen of mol. wt approximately 200 000 from Triton X-100 extracts of the same isolate. Monoclonal antibodies which did not react by indirect immunofluorescence failed to immunoprecipitate this antigen. Although each of the three isolates studied in detail was very similar serologically with the panel of monoclonal antibodies specific for this mol. wt approximately 200 000 antigen, this protein could be distinguished with each isolate on the basis of its apparent size on SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The specifically immunoprecipitated antigen had a mol. wt of 204 000, 197 000 or 202 000, depending on the isolate. Size diversity of this malarial glycoprotein was also detected with seven other Gambian P. falciparum isolates. We conclude that natural isolates of P. falciparum express a major 3H-glucosamine labelled glycoprotein of mol. wt Mr approximately 200 000 which exhibits size diversity and expresses antigenically conserved as well as diverse epitopes as defined by the panel of monoclonal antibodies. Hide abstract
Ring-stage asexual parasites of P. falciparum were collected from six Gambian children and the S-antigens radiolabelled by 3H-glycine uptake during in vitro culture up to rupture of infected cells and merozoite release. Ouchterlony double diffusion of boiled culture supernatants against a panel of adult Gambian sera identified one S-antigen precipitin arc for five isolates and two precipitin arcs for one isolate. Five of the six isolates were serologically distinct. Analysis of S-antigens by comparison of SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis patterns of heat-treated soluble proteins revealed a more complex pattern of 3H-labelled S-antigens that was different for each isolate. There were between two and six different 3H-labelled bands for each isolate in the size range of molecular weight 137 000 to 285 000. This result confirms the large size range of S-antigens identified with culture adapted P. falciparum. Several bands were relatively weakly labelled with 3H-glycine, suggesting that natural isolates contain one or two predominant S-antigen phenotypes and several other S-antigen phenotypes expressed by minor parasite subpopulations. Immunoprecipitation was performed using a panel of sera from Gambian adults, or, acute and 3 week convalescent sera from the same patients used for S-antigen radiolabelling. Adult sera generally immunoprecipitated some of the S-antigens in each isolate, including antigens that must represent extremely minor parasite subpopulations since they could not be seen in the patterns of non-immunoprecipitated heat-stable proteins. Sera from convalescent children were generally negative on immunoprecipitation, even with the homologous isolate. In one case we observed the acquisition of specific immunoprecipitating antibody to one of the homologous S-antigens during the convalescent period. The antigenic and structural complexity of S-antigens in natural isolates that have not been submitted to the selection pressure of adaptation for in vitro culture is clearly greater than for culture adapted P. falciparum. Hide abstract
Two methods are described for detecting the binding of serum antibodies from adults in an endemic malarious area (The Gambia) to surface antigens on Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes. An antibody-mediated parasite-infected-cell-agglutination assay (without secondary antibody) and an indirect immunofluorescence assay employing an anti-Fc secondary reagent were used to detect bound antibody. The surface of erythrocytes containing mature parasites bound antibody, but the surface of uninfected cells or cells containing early parasite stages did not react. Serum from 'non-immune' Europeans did not agglutinate infected erythrocytes, however, in the immunofluorescence test with anti-Ig and anti-F(ab')2 secondary reagents we could detect the binding of IgG antibody from 'non-immune' European serum to a small proportion of infected cells. In contrast to the results with freshly collected isolates, antibodies from sera of Gambian adults did not bind to the surface of infected cells from five different culture-adapted isolates of P. falciparum. These assays are suitable for studies on the antigenic diversity of erythrocyte antigens in natural infections and specific antibody responses to these antigens in infected patients. Hide abstract
Parasite Immunol, 7 (6), pp. 659-663. | Read more1985. Antibody mediated strain-specific agglutination of Plasmodium falciparum--parasitized erythrocytes visualized by ethidium bromide staining.
CLINICAL RESEARCH, 33 (2), pp. A612-A612.1985. ANTIGENIC DIVERSITY OF PLASMODIUM-FALCIPARUM PRIMARY GAMBIAN ISOLATES ASSAYED BY SERUM-INDUCED AGGLUTINATION OF PARASITIZED ERYTHROCYTES
Endemic Burkitt's lymphoma, a tumour of children in which B lymphocytes are infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), is common in areas of Africa where malaria is holoendemic. The tumour is characterized by chromosome translocations; usually the terminal portion of chromosome 8 containing the c-myc gene is translocated to chromosome 14, near the enhancer of the immunoglobulin heavy-chain locus. Less frequent are translocations of chromosome 8 to the kappa light-chain locus of chromosome 2 or to the lambda light-chain locus of chromosome 22. In vitro, EBV induces B cells to proliferate and secrete immunoglobulin and antibody. However, in vivo the infected B lymphocytes are under immunological control, so that abnormal proliferation is found only in immunosuppressed patients. Such patients are subsequently liable to develop lymphomas. Burkitt believed that the tumour he had described resulted from interaction between a virus(es) and a "reticuloendothelial system altered by chronic and heavy infection by malarial or other parasites". We report here that during an attack of Plasmodium falciparum malaria, T-cell subpopulations are radically altered so that, in vitro, B lymphocytes infected with EBV proliferate abnormally to secrete large amounts of immunoglobulin and antibody. This phenomenon offers some explanation for the increased incidence of Burkitt's tumour and the high levels of immunoglobulin found in people living in areas where P. falciparum malaria is common. Hide abstract