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J Histochem Cytochem. 1999 Jun;47(6):751-6.

Quantitative computer image analysis of chondroitin sulfate A expression in placentas infected with Plasmodium falciparum.

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Departments of Pathology and Pediatrics, Hôpital Principal, Dakar, Senegal.


Most pathological conditions resulting from infection with the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum occur as a consequence of the sequestration by several adhesion molecules of parasite-infected red blood cells (IRBCs). Recent reports have provided evidence that placental vascular endothelial ligands for IRBCs were mostly restricted to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA). The expression of CSA in malaria-infected placentas was investigated in a prospective case-control study in a hypoendemic area (Dakar, Senegal). The tissue distribution of CSA was measured in the terminal villi by immunostaining combined with image processing in 20 infected and 20 noninfected frozen sections of placenta. The villous surface immunostained by anti-CSA antibody was higher in infected than in noninfected placentas (p<0.03), in placentas with active infection than in those with past chronic infection (p<0.05), and in infected placentas with positive imprints than in those with negative imprints (not significant; p=0.06). Labeling was found in the extracellular matrix and in endothelial and stromal cells of all the placentas. Syncytiotrophoblast immunostaining was detected in all placentas associated with active or active chronic infection (n=7) but in only 4/13 placentas with past chronic infection (p<0.01). The presence of P. falciparum in the imprint was significantly correlated with immunostaining of CSA in syncytiotrophoblasts (p=0.003). These results suggest that CSA can play an important role in the sequestration of P. falciparum in human placentas during the acute phase of infection.

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