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PLoS Pathog. 2010 Sep 30;6(9):e1001032. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1001032.

Sequestration and tissue accumulation of human malaria parasites: can we learn anything from rodent models of malaria?

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Leiden Malaria Research Group, Department of Parasitology, Center of Infectious Diseases, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


The sequestration of Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells (irbcs) in the microvasculature of organs is associated with severe disease; correspondingly, the molecular basis of irbc adherence is an active area of study. In contrast to P. falciparum, much less is known about sequestration in other Plasmodium parasites, including those species that are used as models to study severe malaria. Here, we review the cytoadherence properties of irbcs of the rodent parasite Plasmodium berghei ANKA, where schizonts demonstrate a clear sequestration phenotype. Real-time in vivo imaging of transgenic P. berghei parasites in rodents has revealed a CD36-dependent sequestration in lungs and adipose tissue. In the absence of direct orthologs of the P. falciparum proteins that mediate binding to human CD36, the P. berghei proteins and/or mechanisms of rodent CD36 binding are as yet unknown. In addition to CD36-dependent schizont sequestration, irbcs accumulate during severe disease in different tissues, including the brain. The role of sequestration is discussed in the context of disease as are the general (dis)similarities of P. berghei and P. falciparum sequestration.

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