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Br J Haematol. 2006 Jun;133(5):562-9.

von Willebrand factor propeptide in malaria: evidence of acute endothelial cell activation.

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Sanquin, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


The pathogenicity of Plasmodium falciparum is thought to relate to the unique ability of infected erythrocytes to adhere to and subsequently activate the vascular endothelium. To study the state of endothelial activation during falciparum malaria, we measured plasma levels of both von Willebrand factor (VWF) and its propeptide, indices of chronic and acute endothelial cell perturbation, respectively. Results were correlated with clinical and biochemical markers of disease severity, including plasma lactate. Our data show that acute endothelial cell activation is a hallmark of malaria in children, indicated by a significant rise in VWF and VWF propeptide. The highest VWF and propeptide levels were seen in cerebral and non-cerebral severe malaria, and associations found between VWF propeptide level and lactate (P < 0.001). Mean VWF propeptide levels (nmol/l) were in cerebral malaria 33.4, non-cerebral severe malaria 26.3, mild malaria 22.1, non-malaria febrile illness 10.2, and controls 10.1. Differences between patient and control groups were highly significant (P < 0.005). Follow-up of 26 cerebral malaria cases showed that levels of VWF propeptide, but not VWF fell by 24 h, following the clinical course of disease and recovery. These novel findings potentially implicate acute, regulated exocytosis of endothelial cell Weibel-Palade bodies in the pathogenesis of Plasmodium falciparum malaria.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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