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Severe malaria is associated with parasite binding to endothelial protein C receptor

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      Abstract

      Sequestration of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes in host blood vessels is a key triggering event in the pathogenesis of severe childhood malaria, which is responsible for about one million deaths every year 1 . Sequestration is mediated by specific interactions between members of the P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) family and receptors on the endothelial lining 2 . Severe malaria is associated with expression of specific PfEMP1 subtypes containing domain cassettes (DC) 8 and 13 3 , but the endothelial receptor for parasites expressing these proteins was unknown 4, 5 . Here, we identify endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR), which mediates cytoprotective effects of activated protein C 6 , as the endothelial receptor for DC8 and DC13 PfEMP1. We show that EPCR binding is mediated through the N-terminal cysteine-rich interdomain region (CIDRα1) of DC8 and group A PfEMP1 subfamilies and that CIDRα1 interferes with protein C binding to EPCR. This PfEMP1 adhesive property links P. falciparum cytoadhesion to a host receptor involved in anticoagulation and endothelial cytoprotective pathways and has implications for understanding malaria pathology and the development of new malaria interventions.

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      Most cited references 31

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      Global malaria mortality between 1980 and 2010: a systematic analysis.

      During the past decade, renewed global and national efforts to combat malaria have led to ambitious goals. We aimed to provide an accurate assessment of the levels and time trends in malaria mortality to aid assessment of progress towards these goals and the focusing of future efforts. We systematically collected all available data for malaria mortality for the period 1980-2010, correcting for misclassification bias. We developed a range of predictive models, including ensemble models, to estimate malaria mortality with uncertainty by age, sex, country, and year. We used key predictors of malaria mortality such as Plasmodium falciparum parasite prevalence, first-line antimalarial drug resistance, and vector control. We used out-of-sample predictive validity to select the final model. Global malaria deaths increased from 995,000 (95% uncertainty interval 711,000-1,412,000) in 1980 to a peak of 1,817,000 (1,430,000-2,366,000) in 2004, decreasing to 1,238,000 (929,000-1,685,000) in 2010. In Africa, malaria deaths increased from 493,000 (290,000-747,000) in 1980 to 1,613,000 (1,243,000-2,145,000) in 2004, decreasing by about 30% to 1,133,000 (848,000-1,591,000) in 2010. Outside of Africa, malaria deaths have steadily decreased from 502,000 (322,000-833,000) in 1980 to 104,000 (45,000-191,000) in 2010. We estimated more deaths in individuals aged 5 years or older than has been estimated in previous studies: 435,000 (307,000-658,000) deaths in Africa and 89,000 (33,000-177,000) deaths outside of Africa in 2010. Our findings show that the malaria mortality burden is larger than previously estimated, especially in adults. There has been a rapid decrease in malaria mortality in Africa because of the scaling up of control activities supported by international donors. Donor support, however, needs to be increased if malaria elimination and eradication and broader health and development goals are to be met. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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        Evidence for the Involvement of VAR2CSA in Pregnancy-associated Malaria

        In Plasmodium falciparum–endemic areas, pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) is an important health problem. The condition is precipitated by accumulation of parasite-infected erythrocytes (IEs) in the placenta, and this process is mediated by parasite-encoded variant surface antigens (VSA) binding to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA). Parasites causing PAM express unique VSA types, VSAPAM, which can be serologically classified as sex specific and parity dependent. It is sex specific because men from malaria-endemic areas do not develop VSAPAM antibodies; it is parity dependent because women acquire anti-VSAPAM immunoglobulin (Ig) G as a function of parity. Previously, it was shown that transcription of var2csa is up-regulated in placental parasites and parasites selected for CSA binding. Here, we show the following: (a) that VAR2CSA is expressed on the surface of CSA-selected IEs; (b) that VAR2CSA is recognized by endemic plasma in a sex-specific and parity-dependent manner; (c) that high anti-VAR2CSA IgG levels can be found in pregnant women from both West and East Africa; and (d) that women with high plasma levels of anti-VAR2CSA IgG give birth to markedly heavier babies and have a much lower risk of delivering low birth weight children than women with low levels.
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          Adhesion of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes to human cells: molecular mechanisms and therapeutic implications

          Severe malaria has a high mortality rate (15–20%) despite treatment with effective antimalarial drugs. Adjunctive therapies for severe malaria that target the underlying disease process are therefore urgently required. Adhesion of erythrocytes infected with Plasmodium falciparum to human cells has a key role in the pathogenesis of life-threatening malaria and could be targeted with antiadhesion therapy. Parasite adhesion interactions include binding to endothelial cells (cytoadherence), rosetting with uninfected erythrocytes and platelet-mediated clumping of infected erythrocytes. Recent research has started to define the molecular mechanisms of parasite adhesion, and antiadhesion therapies are being explored. However, many fundamental questions regarding the role of parasite adhesion in severe malaria remain unanswered. There is strong evidence that rosetting contributes to severe malaria in sub-Saharan Africa; however, the identity of other parasite adhesion phenotypes that are implicated in disease pathogenesis remains unclear. In addition, the possibility of geographic variation in adhesion phenotypes causing severe malaria, linked to differences in malaria transmission levels and host immunity, has been neglected. Further research is needed to realise the untapped potential of antiadhesion adjunctive therapies, which could revolutionise the treatment of severe malaria and reduce the high mortality rate of the disease.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Centre for Medical Parasitology, Department of International Health, Immunology & Microbiology, University of Copenhagen and Department of Infectious Diseases, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
            [2 ]Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, Seattle, WA 98109-5219. United States of America
            [3 ]Retrogenix, High Peak, United Kingdom
            [4 ]National Institute of Medical Research, Tanga Centre, Tanga, Tanzania
            [5 ]Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, United States of America
            [6 ]Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
            Author notes
            [*]

            These authors contributed equally to the work.

            Journal
            0410462
            6011
            Nature
            Nature
            Nature
            0028-0836
            1476-4687
            8 November 2013
            05 June 2013
            27 June 2013
            27 December 2013
            : 498
            : 7455
            23739325 3870021 10.1038/nature12216 NIHMS527080
            Funding
            Funded by: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Extramural Activities : NIAID
            Award ID: U19 AI089688 || AI
            Funded by: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Extramural Activities : NIAID
            Award ID: R01 AI047953 || AI
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