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S Afr Med J. 1993 Sep;83(9):660-2.

Are anticardiolipin antibodies responsible for some of the complications of severe acute Plasmodium falciparum malaria?

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Department of Medicine, University of Natal, Durban.


What were first called simply false-positive Wassermann reactions and then lupus anticoagulant are now known as antiphospholipid or anticardiolipin antibodies (ACA). These are known to cause a tendency to thrombosis and are frequently present in many neurological conditions and infections. The pathological significance of these antibodies in acute infections, if any, is unknown. We investigated the presence of these antibodies in Plasmodium falciparum malaria in an endemic area in Natal/KwaZulu, and attempted to correlate the presence of this antibody with cerebral manifestations. Immunoglobulin G-anticardiolipin antibodies measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay occurred significantly more frequently in 62 patients with acute Plasmodium falciparum malaria (33.9%) than in 37 control subjects (2.7%) (P < 0.0001). There was no significant difference in the mean parasite loads in those patients who were positive for ACA (1.75%) and those who were negative (1.59%) (P = 0.83). No correlation was found between parasite load and ACA levels in the patient group, or between the number of cerebral manifestations in patients with and without the antibody. The frequency of splenomegaly was not significantly different in patients with and without ACA (P = 0.06). We conclude that there is a high prevalence of ACA in acute falciparum malaria. The pathological significance of this antibody and its relationship to complications, especially cerebral ones, warrant greater attention and may improve the understanding of cerebral malaria and its management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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