Host and Malaria Parasite Factors Associated with Disease Susceptibility and Severity

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Wanna Chaijaroenkul


Malaria remains one of the major global public health problems despite a decline in its incidence in recent years. Both parasite and human host-related factors play significant roles in malaria susceptibility, pathogenesis, and disease severity.  Among the six malaria species that infect humans, Plasmodium falciparum has a unique capacity to infect host erythrocytes and develop a variety of surface antigens during this intra-erythrocyte stage to evade host immunity. Polymorphisms of the gene encoding Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) results in severe pathogenesis and clinical manifestations. Among the host-related factors, the polymorphisms of the genes encoding proteins involved in immune functions (immunomodulatory proteins, toll-like receptors) and the binding of malaria parasites to host cells (cytoadhesion proteins) are the key proteins involved in malaria pathogenesis and severity. Results of various reports for the relationship between the polymorphisms of both parasite and host genes and malaria susceptibility, pathogenesis and disease severity are, inconclusive, depending on endemic areas and observation periods under investigation.


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