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Virulence. 2013 Aug 15;4(6):543-55. doi: 10.4161/viru.25949. Epub 2013 Aug 2.

Contrasting pediatric and adult cerebral malaria: the role of the endothelial barrier.

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University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Malaria affects millions of people around the world and a small subset of those infected develop cerebral malaria. The clinical presentation of cerebral malaria differs between children and adults, and it has been suggested that age-related changes in the endothelial response may account for some of these differences. During cerebral malaria, parasites sequester within the brain microvasculature but do not penetrate into the brain parenchyma and yet, the infection causes severe neurological symptoms. Endothelial dysfunction is thought to play an important role in mediating these adverse clinical outcomes. During infection, the endothelium becomes activated and more permeable, which leads to increased inflammation, hemorrhages, and edema in the surrounding tissue. We hypothesize that post-natal developmental changes, occurring in both endothelial response and the neurovascular unit, account for the differences observed in the clinical presentations of cerebral malaria in children compared with adults.


adults; cerebral malaria; endothelial dysfunction; neurovascular unit; pediatric

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