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Parasite Immunol. 2013 Sep-Oct;35(9-10):267-82. doi: 10.1111/pim.12039.

Immunobiology of Plasmodium in liver and brain.

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Division of Medical Parasitology, Department of Microbiology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10010, USA.


Malaria remains one of the most serious health problems globally, but our understanding of the biology of the parasite and the pathogenesis of severe disease is still limited. Multiple cellular effector mechanisms that mediate parasite elimination from the liver have been described, but how effector cells use classical granule-mediated cytotoxicity to attack infected hepatocytes and how cytokines and chemokines spread via the unique fluid pathways of the liver to reach the parasites over considerable distances remains unknown. Similarly, a wealth of information on cerebral malaria (CM), one of the most severe manifestations of the disease, was gained from post-mortem analyses of human brain and murine disease models, but the cellular processes that ultimately cause disease are not fully understood. Here, we discuss how imaging of the local dynamics of parasite infection and host response as well as consideration of anatomical and physiological features of liver and brain can provide a better understanding of the initial asymptomatic hepatic phase of the infection and the cascade of events leading to CM. Given the increasing drug resistance of both parasite and vector and the unavailability of a protective vaccine, the urgency to reduce the tremendous morbidity and mortality associated with severe malaria is obvious.


blood-brain barrier; intravital imaging; liver; malaria; post-capillary venule; sequestration

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