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It is the major malaria complication in areas with intense malaria transmission, and it is long known that it cannot be explained simply by direct destruction of red blood cells by invading parasites. The disease largely withdraws from being studied because, when infants being severely anaemic see a doctor, it has happened already, and there is no appropriate animal model – despite contrary statements.
Our genetic studies have now shown that a surface moiety on defence cells which binds inflammatory factors from serum occurs in children with severe malaria anaemia significantly more frequently than in children with other forms of severe malaria. Thus, one way or another the inflammatory reaction in serum has something to do with the acute disappearance of red blood cells – a first hint at least. Apparently, braking of the inflammatory response does not always work perfectly in malaria.
Schuldt K. et al., J Med Genet 2010, 47:471-5
Kathrin Schuldt, Christian Timmann, Jennifer Evans, Jürgen May, Claudia Esser, Christa Ehmen, Wibke Loag, Rolf Horstmann and external co- operation partners (see publication)