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Cerebrospinal Fluid Res. 2006 Jun 9;3:8.

Characteristic abnormalities in cerebrospinal fluid biochemistry in children with cerebral malaria compared to viral encephalitis.

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1
Whiston General Hospital, Whiston, Warrington Road, L355DR, UK. jakkasrinu@yahoo.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In developing countries where Plasmodium falciparum malaria is endemic, viral encephalitis and cerebral malaria are found in the same population, and parasitemia with Plasmodium falciparum is common in asymptomatic children. The objective of this study was to investigate the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biochemistry in children with cerebral malaria compared to those with presumed viral encephalitis.

METHODS:

We studied the following CSF parameters: cell count, glucose, protein, lactic dehydrogenase (LDH) and adenosine deaminase (ADA) levels, in children with cerebral malaria, with presumed viral encephalitis, and in control subjects who had a lumbar puncture after a febrile convulsion with postictal coma.

RESULTS:

We recruited 12 children with cerebral malaria, 14 children with presumed viral encephalitis and 20 controls prospectively, over 2 years in the Government General Hospital in Kakinada, India. Patients with cerebral malaria had significantly lower CSF glucose, and higher protein, LDH, CSF/blood LDH ratio and CSF ADA levels but a lower CSF/serum ADA ratio compared to controls (p < 0.01). Patients with cerebral malaria had lower CSF white cell count, glucose, protein, LDH levels and CSF/serum ADA ratio compared to patients with presumed viral encephalitis. CSF/serum ADA ratio was lower in patients with cerebral malaria due to the fact that serum ADA levels were significantly higher in patients with cerebral malaria compared to the other two groups. A CSF/serum ADA ratio of <0.38 and a CSF glucose level of <3.4 mmol/l were selected as the cut-off values with the highest sensitivities and specificities for comparing the two conditions.

CONCLUSION:

CSF/serum ADA ratio and CSF glucose levels were the best discriminators of cerebral malaria from presumed viral encephalitis in our study. Further studies are needed to explore their usefulness in epidemiological studies.

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