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Infect Immun. 2005 Nov;73(11):7736-46.

Whole-body imaging of sequestration of Plasmodium falciparum in the rat.

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Microbiology & Tumorbiology Centre (MTC), Karolinska Institutet, Nobels väg 16, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


The occlusion of vessels by packed Plasmodium falciparum-infected (iRBC) and uninfected erythrocytes is a characteristic postmortem finding in the microvasculature of patients with severe malaria. Here we have employed immunocompetent Sprague-Dawley rats to establish sequestration in vivo. Human iRBC cultivated in vitro and purified in a single step over a magnet were labeled with 99mtechnetium, injected into the tail vein of the rat, and monitored dynamically for adhesion in the microvasculature using whole-body imaging or imaging of the lungs subsequent to surgical removal. iRBC of different lines and clones sequester avidly in vivo while uninfected erythrocytes did not. Histological examination revealed that a multiadhesive parasite adhered in the larger microvasculature, inducing extensive intravascular changes while CD36- and chondroitin sulfate A-specific parasites predominantly sequester in capillaries, inducing no or minor pathology. Removal of the adhesive ligand Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1), preincubation of the iRBC with sera to PfEMP1 or preincubation with soluble PfEMP1-receptors prior to injection significantly reduced the sequestration. The specificity of iRBC binding to the heterologous murine receptors was confirmed in vitro, using primary rat lung endothelial cells and rat lung cryosections. In offering flow dynamics, nonmanipulated endothelial cells, and an intact immune system, we believe this syngeneic animal model to be an important complement to existing in vitro systems for the screening of vaccines and adjunct therapies aiming at the prevention and treatment of severe malaria.

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