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Nat Med. 1996 Feb;2(2):204-8.

Novel fibrillar structure confers adhesive property to malaria-infected erythrocytes.

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Microbiology and Tumor Biology Center, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Infections with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum are characterized by sequestration of erythrocytes infected by mature forms of the parasite. Sequestration seems critical for the survival of the parasite, but may lead to excessive binding in the microvasculature and death of the human host. We report here that a novel electrondense fibrillar structure, containing immunoglobulins M or M and G, is found at the surface of infected erythrocytes that adhere to host cells. In cases of cerebral malaria, fibrillar strands are also seen in the microvasculature at autopsy. Our findings may explain the adhesive mechanism by which malaria-infected erythrocytes cause the vascular obstruction seen in complicated malaria infections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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