[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Plasmodium falciparum infection can abruptly progress to severe malaria, a life-threatening complication resulting from sequestration of parasitized red blood cells (PRBC) in the microvasculature of various organs such as the brain and lungs. PRBC adhesion can induce endothelial cell (EC) activation and apoptosis, thereby disrupting the blood-brain barrier. Moreover, hemozoin, the malarial pigment, induces the erythroid precursor apoptosis. Despite the current efficiency of antimalarial drugs in killing parasites, severe malaria still causes up to one million deaths every year. A new strategy targeting both parasite elimination and EC protection is urgently needed in the field. Recently, a rho-kinase inhibitor Fasudil, a drug already in clinical use in humans for cardio- and neuro-vascular diseases, was successfully tested on laboratory strains of P. falciparum to protect and to reverse damages of the endothelium. We therefore assessed herein whether Fasudil would have a similar efficiency on P. falciparum taken directly from malaria patients using contact and non-contact experiments. Seven (23.3%) of 30 PRBC preparations from different patients were apoptogenic, four (13.3%) acting by cytoadherence and three (10%) via soluble factors. None of the apoptogenic PRBC preparations used both mechanisms indicating a possible mutual exclusion of signal transduction ligand. Three PRBC preparations (42.9%) induced EC apoptosis by cytoadherence after 4 h of coculture ("rapid transducers"), and four (57.1%) after a minimum of 24 h ("slow transducers"). The intensity of apoptosis increased with time. Interestingly, Fasudil inhibited EC apoptosis mediated both by cell-cell contact and by soluble factors but did not affect PRBC cytoadherence. Fasudil was found to be able to prevent endothelium apoptosis from all the P. falciparum isolates tested. Our data provide evidence of the strong anti-apoptogenic effect of Fasudil and show that endothelial cell-P. falciparum interactions are more complicated than previously thought. These findings may warrant clinical trials of Fasudil in severe malaria management.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Plasmodium falciparum cells tend to grow in synchronicity during their cyclic intraerythrocytic development in vivo. Both host and parasite factors appear to be involved in this synchronization. We examined the link between mixed-allelic-family P. falciparum infection and synchronicity in parasitized red blood cells (PRBC) from symptomatic children. The distribution of rings and trophozoites in each PRBC sample was determined by standard microscopy. P. falciparum was genotyped by using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeting three loci (merozoite surface proteins (MSP) 1 and 2, and 175-kD erythrocyte binding antigen (EBA), allowing us to distinguish parasite clones belonging to a single-allelic family (SAF) and those belonging to a mixed-allelic family (MAF). Parasite development was considered synchronous when peripheral blood contained at least 95% of rings or 95% of trophozoites. Parasite development was synchronous in 22 (21.2%) of the 104 children studied. Twenty (90.9%) of these infections were SAF and two (9.1%) were MAF. Rings and trophozoites predominated in respectively 12 (60%) and 8 (40%) SAF infections. Respectively 17.1% and 82.9% of the 82 asynchronous cases corresponded to SAF and MAF infection. Parasite synchronicity was therefore significantly related to single-allelic-family infection (p<2x10(-10)). Twenty different MSP-1 alleles and thirteen different MSP-2 alleles were identified. Only three isolates from patients with SAF infection comprised a single allele or genotype, the other isolates harboring at least two alleles. The mean number of alleles or clones was respectively 3.0 and 10.0 in SAF and MAF infection. These results reflect the allelic diversity of the MSP loci and show that SAF infection can correspond to multiple parasite clones (or genotypes) but, in general, fewer than in MAF infection (p<or=0.0007). These results confirm the extensive polymorphism of P. falciparum vaccine candidates MSP-1 and -2 in southeastern Gabon and demonstrate that parasite synchronicity in vivo is strongly associated with single-allelic-family infection.