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Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2010 Oct;152(2):126-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2010.05.013. Epub 2010 Jun 17.

Molecular interactions in the placenta during malaria infection.

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Royal Tropical Institute, Department of Biomedical Research, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Placental malaria is the placental sequestration of Plasmodium falciparum infected erythrocytes that accumulate in the intervillous space, resulting in pathological alterations. The intervillous space, the main compartment for exchange of nutrients and delivery of oxygen to the fetus, is of utmost importance for fetal development. Events leading to adverse outcomes of placental malaria can be summarized in four steps: (1) accumulation of P. falciparum infected erythrocytes; (2) infiltration of monocytes and macrophages; (3) alteration of the placental cytokine balance and (4) pathogenesis of adverse pregnancy outcomes. These events are triggered by chemokines and cytokines leading to impaired materno-fetal exchange and damage to the placenta. This review describes the events during placental malaria infection at molecular level and presents a simplified model describing all crucial steps leading to adverse pregnancy outcomes based on a review of recent literature (August 2009).

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