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Acta Neuropathol. 2001 Jan;101(1):65-8.

Heme oxygenase-1 in lesions of human cerebral malaria.

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Institute of Brain Research and Department of Parasitology, University of Tuebingen, Germany.


Human cerebral malaria is a life threatening complication of Plasmodium falciparum infection. The cascades of signaling events resulting in tissue trauma, lesion formation, coma or resolution of lesions are only slowly becoming unraveled. Understanding the generation of local tissue protective cellular reactions might pave the way for generation of novel drugs limiting the formation of cerebral malaria lesions. Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is an inducible enzyme degrading heme into the gaseous mediator carbon monoxide (CO) and biliverdin, a local antioxidant. Expression of HO-1 is considered a protective reaction against inflammatory and other insults to the brain. We have localized HO-1 to Durck's granulomas, typical lesions of advanced cerebral malaria. Here, activated monocytic cells and ramified microglia in direct vicinity to the lesions express HO-1. The striking association of HO-1 expression with areas of bleedings suggests that released hemoglobin and heme-- known inducers of HO-1--are mainly responsible for induction of monocytic HO-1 expression. HO-1 is expressed rather late to play a protective role in lesion formation and appears to have only a major role in Durck's granulomas. Further, generation of the gaseous mediator CO might contribute to the neurological derangements of advanced cerebral malaria.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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