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Factors influencing phagocytosis of malaria parasites: the story so far

Authors
  • Chua, Caroline Lin Lin1
  • Ng, Ida May Jen1
  • Yap, Bryan Ju Min1
  • Teo, Andrew2, 3
  • 1 Taylor’s University, Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia , Subang Jaya (Malaysia)
  • 2 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore , Singapore (Singapore)
  • 3 The Doherty Institute, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia , Victoria (Australia)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Malaria Journal
Publisher
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Jul 16, 2021
Volume
20
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1186/s12936-021-03849-1
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Review
License
Green

Abstract

There are seven known species of Plasmodium spp. that can infect humans. The human host can mount a complex network of immunological responses to fight infection and one of these immune functions is phagocytosis. Effective and timely phagocytosis of parasites, accompanied by the activation of a regulated inflammatory response, is beneficial for parasite clearance. Functional studies have identified specific opsonins, particularly antibodies and distinct phagocyte sub-populations that are associated with clinical protection against malaria. In addition, cellular and molecular studies have enhanced the understanding of the immunological pathways and outcomes following phagocytosis of malaria parasites. In this review, an integrated view of the factors that can affect phagocytosis of infected erythrocytes and parasite components, the immunological consequences and their association with clinical protection against Plasmodium spp. infection is provided. Several red blood cell disorders and co-infections, and drugs that can influence phagocytic capability during malaria are also discussed. It is hoped that an enhanced understanding of this immunological process can benefit the design of new therapeutics and vaccines to combat this infectious disease.

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