Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Background: Interactions between the endothelium and infected erythrocytes, microvascular dysfunction and parasite sequestration play major roles in the pathogenesis of severe falciparum malaria. The glycocalyx is a carbohydrate-rich layer lining the endothelium mediating NO production and vascular homeostasis. The role of the glycocalyx in falciparum malaria and the association with disease severity is not known. Methods: We prospectively enrolled Indonesian inpatients (≥18 years old) with severe (SM) or moderately-severe (MSM) falciparum malaria and healthy controls (HCs). Glycocalyx breakdown products were measured in enrolment samples of urine (glycosaminoglycans; dimethylmethylene blue [GAG-DMMB] and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry [GAG-MS] assays) and plasma (syndecan-1; ELISA), and related to vascular NO bioavailability (reactive hyperemia-peripheral arterial tonometry). Results: A total of 129 subjects (SM=43, MSM=57, HC=29) were recruited. Syndecan-1 (µg/ml), GAG-DMMB and GAG-MS (g/mol creatinine) were increased in SM [median (range) 332.4 (85-3-1913), 3.16 (0.04-27.9) and 4.73 (2.02-27.13)] compared to MSM [99.1 (19.9-767.6), 1.28 (0.03-9.3) and 4.44 (1.19-13.87)], and HCs [48.9 (32.3-88.3), 0.11 (0.02-1.9) and 2.55 (0.73-10.19)]; P<0.001. In SM, GAG-DMMB and GAG-MS were increased in non-survivors (n=3) [median (IQR): 6.72 (3.80-27.87) and 12.15 (7.88-17.20)] compared to survivors n=39 [(3.10 (0.46-4.5) and 4.64 (2.02-15.20)]; P=0.03. Glycocalyx degradation was associated with parasite biomass in MSM (r=0.31, P=0.03 [syndecan-1]; r=0.48 [GAG-DMMB] and r=0.43 [GAG-MS], P<0.001), and SM patients (r=0.29, P=0.04, r=0.47; P=0.002 and r=0.33, P=0.04), and inversely associated with endothelial NO bioavailability. Conclusions: Increased endothelial glycocalyx breakdown is associated with impaired vascular NO, severe disease and fatal outcome in adults with falciparum malaria, likely contributing to pathogenesis.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Infect Dis

Publication Date