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Pathogenesis and Experimental Models of Cerebral Malaria: A Review

Cerebral malaria (CM), a severe complication of the nervous system due to uncontrolled/untreated Plasmodium falciparum infection in humans, is characterized by neurological symptoms, hypothermia, and the sequestration of the infected-erythrocytes (IEs) and platelet microparticles in brain. The sequestration of the IEs in the brain capillaries ensues in hemorrhages, hypoxia, hypoglycemia, convulsions, coma, and ultimately, the death of the patient, if left untreated. Our understanding of human CM (HCM) is rather sparse mainly because of the ethical constraints. So far, knowledge about CM has been obtained from autopsy studies of the brain tissue of CM patients. Therefore, there is urgent need for ideal in vivo and/or in vitro models of CM, which mimic the HCM, as closely as possible. So far, no ideal experimental CM model has been reported. The critical analysis of the data collected from various in vivo and in vitro models of CM is expected to augment our understanding of several important aspects of HCM pathogenesis. The identification of biomarkers/biosignatures for the prognosis and diagnosis of HCM are very much warranted. The availability of a suitable experimental model(s) of CM will be helpful in understanding the pathogenesis of HCM, and in the discovery and development of novel therapeutic strategies for HCM.


Prati Pal Singh and Bhanu Prakash

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