Plasmodium berghei: influence of infection on the oxidant and antioxidants levels in pregnant BALB/c mice.
ABSTRACT Malarial infection during pregnancy has been associated with maternal anemia and death, abortion, still-birth and is a major cause of low birth weight, an important risk factor for infant morbidity and mortality in endemic areas. The present study was designed to delineate the oxidative stress in various organs (liver, spleen, kidney, brain and placenta) of pregnant Plasmodium berghei infected BALB/c mice. It was observed that pregnant-infected mice had higher parasitaemia than nonpregnant-infected mice. Most notably, levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), a measure of lipid peroxidation, reduced glutathione (GSH) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) levels were significantly higher in the liver, spleen, kidney and brain of pregnant-infected mice compared with pregnant mice. Although MDA levels were significantly higher, GSH and SOD levels remained unaltered in the placenta of pregnant-infected mice compared with pregnant mice. Furthermore, catalase activity was significantly lower in all the organs of pregnant-infected mice compared with pregnant mice. Histopathological observations in the organs clearly show the cellular and morphological alterations that may be occurring due to increased lipid peroxidation. Taken together, the data suggest that the increased severity of malarial infection during pregnancy may be due to accentuated oxidative stress.