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Malar J. 2009 May 14;8:101. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-8-101.

Influence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) on in vitro growth of Plasmodium falciparum.

Author information

1
Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology, John A Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, 651 Ilalo Street, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA. clintonp@hawaii.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

During pregnancy, women are more susceptible to Plasmodium falciparum infections and frequently have a higher parasitaemia than non-pregnant women. Several mechanisms are responsible for their increased susceptibility, including down-modulation of immune responses that aid in parasite clearance and sequestration of infected erythrocytes in the placenta. Early in pregnancy, a third mechanism may contribute to higher parasitaemia, since it has been reported that addition of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to in vitro cultures of the NF54-strain of P. falciparum results in increased parasite growth rates. The goal of this study was to further examine the effect of hCG on P. falciparum growth.

METHODS:

The NF54-3D7, FVO and 7G8 strains of P. falciparum were cultured in vitro with various physiological concentrations of hCG purchased from three sources. Infected erythrocytes were also co-cultured with a human cell line that naturally secretes hCG.

RESULTS:

Results from 14 experiments using different combinations of parasite strains and concentrations of hCG from different sources, as well as the co-culture studies, failed to provide convincing evidence that hCG enhances parasite growth in vitro.

CONCLUSION:

Based on these data, it seems unlikely that hCG has a direct effect on the rate of parasite growth early in pregnancy.

PMID:
19439103
PMCID:
PMC2685809
DOI:
10.1186/1475-2875-8-101
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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