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Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2006 Apr;32(2):177-88.

Behavioural and histopathological alterations in mice with cerebral malaria.

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Clinical Department of Neurology, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria.


Different features of sensorimotor function and behaviour were studied in murine cerebral malaria (CM) and malaria without cerebral involvement (non-CM) applying the primary screen of the SHIRPA protocol. Histopathological analysis of distinct brain regions was performed and the relative size of haemorrhages and plugging of blood cells to brain vasculature was analysed. Animals suffering from CM develop a wide range of behavioural and functional alterations in the progressive course of the disease with a statistically significant impairment in all functional categories assessed 36 h prior to death when compared with control animals. Early functional indicators of cerebral phenotype are impairments in reflex and sensory system and in neuropsychiatric state. Deterioration in function is paralleled by the degree of histopathological changes with a statistically significant correlation between the SHIRPA score of CM animals and the mean size of brain haemorrhage. Furthermore, image analysis yielded that the relative area of the brain lesions was significantly larger in the forebrain and brainstem compared with the other regions of interest. Our results indicate that assessment of sensory and motor tasks by the SHIRPA primary screen is appropriate for the early in vivo discrimination of cerebral involvement in experimental murine malaria. Our findings also suggest a correlation between the degree of functional impairment and the size of the brain lesions as indicated by parenchymal haemorrhage. Applying the SHIRPA protocol in the functional characterization of animals suffering from CM might prove useful in the preclinical assessment of new antimalarial and potential neuroprotective therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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