Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Key To Malaria Susceptibility In Children Discovered

Date:
July 31, 2009
Source:
Case Western Reserve University
Summary:
Researchers have solved the mystery of why some children are more susceptible to malaria infection and anemia. These novel findings suggest that some children who are exposed to Plasmodium falciparum malaria before birth become tolerant to the malaria parasites, or their soluble products. This tolerance, which persists into childhood, reduces the ability of the immune system to attack and destroy parasites and increases the susceptibility of these children to develop a malaria infection.

A team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have solved the mystery of why some children are more susceptible to malaria infection and anemia. These novel findings suggest that some children who are exposed to Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) malaria before birth become tolerant to the malaria parasites, or their soluble products. This tolerance, which persists into childhood, reduces the ability of the immune system to attack and destroy parasites and increases the susceptibility of these children to develop a malaria infection. It also increases their risk for anemia.

Related Articles


The study is led by Indu Malhotra, Ph.D., and Christopher King, M.D., Ph.D., professor of international health, medicine, and pathology, with their colleagues at the Center for Global Health and Diseases at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and their Kenyan colleagues at the Kenya Medical Research Institute and Division of Vector Borne Diseases.

"This is the first time it has been shown why some children are more susceptible to malaria and anemia than other children," says Dr. Indu Malhotra. "This study is timely given President Obama's Global Health Initiative to assist developing countries to control malaria, one of the 'big three' diseases."

The Case Western Reserve study investigated how prenatal malaria exposure affects anti-malaria immunity in young children and their susceptibility to subsequent malaria infections. Little is known about how immunity to malaria develops in infants, a process which researchers must understand in order to design effective vaccines for children. In particular, it is unclear how a mother's malaria infection affects a child's acquisition of anti-malaria immunity.

From a pool of 586 Kenyan newborn babies, the researchers identified those children who had been exposed to P. falciparum malaria in utero. The researchers looked for malaria-specific immune responses in T cells in the newborn babies' cord blood by measuring the production of cytokines, molecules that either activate or inhibit the immune system. Finally, they examined the infants biannually for three years to monitor the children's immune responses, susceptibility to malaria infection and risk for anemia..

"These findings could have important implications for the design of malaria vaccines for use in areas where children are often exposed to malaria before birth and for the design of strategies for the prevention of malaria during pregnancy," says Dr. Christopher King.

The babies were classified into three groups: "sensitized" – those babies whose cord blood cells produce activating cytokines in response to the malaria antigens; "exposed, not-sensitized'' – babies whose bodies did not produce activating cytokines but made an inhibitory cytokine; and "not-exposed''– babies born to mothers with no P. falciparum malaria infection at delivery.

In their first three years of life, the "exposed, not-sensitized" group had a 60 percent greater risk of malaria infection than the "not-exposed" group and a slightly higher risk of malaria infection than the "sensitized" group. They also had lower hemoglobulin levels, a sign of anemia, than the other babies. The T cells of "exposed, not-sensitized" children were less likely to make activating cytokines in response to malaria antigens.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Case Western Reserve University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Malhotra I, Dent A, Mungai P, Wamachi A, Ouma JH, et al. Can Prenatal Malaria Exposure Produce an Immune Tolerant Phenotype?: A Prospective Birth Cohort Study in Kenya. PLoS Med, 6(7): e1000116 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000116

Cite This Page:

Case Western Reserve University. "Key To Malaria Susceptibility In Children Discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727203743.htm>.
Case Western Reserve University. (2009, July 31). Key To Malaria Susceptibility In Children Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727203743.htm
Case Western Reserve University. "Key To Malaria Susceptibility In Children Discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727203743.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins