Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Red blood cells (RBCs) must deform considerably during their multiple passages through the microvasculature and the sinusoids of the spleen. RBCs infected with Plasmodium falciparum (Pf-IRBCs) become increasingly rigid as they mature but avoid splenic clearance by sequestering in venules and capillaries. In contrast, RBCs infected with P. vivax (Pv-IRBCs) do not sequester. We compared the effects of P. vivax and P. falciparum infection on RBC deformability in a laminar shear flow system. Pf-IRBCs became more rigid as the parasite matured, but equivalent maturation of Pv-IRBCs resulted in a doubling of flexibility. Coincidentally, the IRBC surface area increased from 56.7+/-1.3 microm2 to 74.7+/-0.6 microm2 to 90.9+/-1.1 microm2 in ring-, trophozoite-, and schizont-stage Pv-IRBCs, respectively, whereas Pf-IRBCs did not increase in size. P. vivax increases the deformability of IRBCs and thereby avoids splenic entrapment.

Original publication




Journal article


J Infect Dis

Publication Date





190 - 194


Animals, Erythrocyte Deformability, Erythrocytes, Humans, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax