Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Blood Cells. 1990;16(2-3):437-49.

Ion metabolism in malaria-infected erythrocytes.

Author information

Laboratory of Biology, Osaka Institute of Technology, Japan.


Malaria parasites of the genus Plasmodium spend much of their asexual life cycle inside the erythrocytes of their vertebrate hosts. Parasites presumably have to exploit metabolic and transport mechanisms to adapt themselves to the host erythrocyte's physicochemical environment. This review surveys the metabolism and transport of Ca2+, alkali cations, and H+ in malaria-infected erythrocytes. The Ca2+ content of Plasmodium-infected erythrocytes increases as the parasite matures. An increase in the influx of extracellular Ca2+ into infected erythrocytes is evident at later stages of parasite development. In infected erythrocytes, Ca2+ is almost exclusively localized in the parasite compartment and changes but little in the cytosol of the host cell. The importance of Ca2+ in supporting the growth of intraerythrocytic parasites and the invasion of erythrocytes by the merozoite has been assessed by depletion of extracellular Ca2+ with chelators, or by disturbance of the metabolism and transport of Ca2+ with a variety of Ca2+ modulators. Membranes of malaria-infected erythrocytes change their permeability to alkali cations. Hence, levels of K+ decrease and levels of Na+ increase in the cytosol of infected erythrocytes. Intraerythrocytic parasites maintain a high K+, low Na+ state, suggesting a mechanism for transporting K+ inward and Na+ outward against concentration gradients of the alkali cations across the parasite plasma membrane and/or the parasitophorous vacuole membrane (PVM). Concomitantly, P. falciparum can grow in Na(+)-enriched human erythrocytes. Experimental evidence suggests that Plasmodium possesses in its plasma membrane a proton pump which is very sensitive to orthovanadate, carbonylcyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone, a protonophore, and dicyclohexylcarbodiimide, an inhibitor of H(+)-ATPase, but is only slightly sensitive to inhibitors of bacterial and mitochondrial respiration, such as antimycin A, CN-, or N3-, and ouabain, a Na+, K(+)-ATPase inhibitor. By operating this proton pump, parasites extrude H+ and thus generate an electrochemical gradient of protons (an internal negative membrane potential and a concentration gradient of protons) across the parasite plasma membrane. The electrochemical gradient apparently drives inward movement of Ca2+ and, possibly, glucose from the cytosol of infected erythrocytes. Little is known about the transport properties of the PVM. Recent sequence studies suggest that Plasmodium contains a cation-transporting ATPase which exhibits a high homology to the Ca2(+)-ATPase of rabbit skeletal muscle sarcoplasmic reticulum.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center