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Brain endothelial cells increase the proliferation of Plasmodium falciparum through production of soluble factors

Experimental Parasitology
DOI: 10.1016/j.exppara.2014.07.002
  • Malaria
  • Cerebral Malaria
  • Plasmodium Falciparum
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract We here describe the novel finding that brain endothelial cells in vitro can stimulate the growth of Plasmodium falciparum through the production of low molecular weight growth factors. By using a conditioned medium approach, we show that these brain endothelial cells continued to release these factors over time. If this mirrors the in vivo situation, these growth factors potentially would provide an advantage, in terms of enhanced growth, for sequestered parasitised red blood cells in the brain microvasculature. We also observed this phenomenon with brain endothelial cells from several sources as well as a second P. falciparum strain. The characteristics of the growth factors included: <3kDa molecular weight, heat stable, and in part chloroform soluble. Future efforts should be directed at identifying these growth factors, since blocking their production or actions might be of benefit for reducing parasite load and, hence, malaria pathology.

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