alexa Maturation of Plasmodium falciparum in multiply infected erythrocytes and the potential role in malaria pathogenesis.


Journal of Clinical & Experimental Pathology

Author(s): Orjih AU

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Erythrocytes containing two or more parasites, referred to here as multiply infected erythrocytes (MIEs), are common in the blood of humans infected by Plasmodium falciparum. It is necessary to study these cells closely because the excess numbers of parasites they contain suggest that they could be overloaded with virulence factors. Here, microscopic examinations of blood smears from patients showed that up to seven merozoites can successfully invade an erythrocyte and mature to ring stage. However, in vitro culture showed that only up to three parasites can mature to late schizont stage. These observations were made by culturing the parasites in erythrocytes containing hemoglobin AA (HbAA), HbAS, and HbSS. Biochemical analysis of saponin-concentrated culture suggests that more hemozoin is produced in a MIE than in a singly infected erythrocyte (SIE). Studies have shown that ingestion of excessive hemozoin destroys monocytes and neutrophils, which could impair the immune system. Cultured parasites were also examined by transmission electron microscopy, and it was found that the quantity of knobs was dramatically increased on the membranes of erythrocytes containing multiple schizonts, compared to those containing only one schizont. Knobs contain, among other things, P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) complex which mediates sequestration and promotes severe malaria. These findings suggest that P. falciparum increases its virulence by producing MIEs. On sexual life cycle of the parasite, microphotographs are presented in this report showing, for the first time, that two gametocytes can develop in one erythrocyte; they are referred to here as twin gametocytes. It is not known whether they can infect mosquitoes.

This article was published in Parasitol Res and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Pathology

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