Red cell surface changes and erythrophagocytosis in children with severe Plasmodium falciparum anemia

John N. Waitumbi, Malachi O. Opollo, Richard O. Muga, Ambrose O. Misore, José A. Stoute

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Severe anemia is one of the most lethal complications in children infected with Plasmodium falciparum. The pathogenesis of this anemia is not completely understood. Experimental data from malaria-infected humans and animal models suggest that uninfected red cells have a shortened life span. This study looked for changes in the red cell surfaces of children with severe malarial anemia that could explain this accelerated destruction. A prospective case-control study was conducted of children with severe P falciparum anemia (hemoglobin of 5 g/dL or lower) admitted to a large general hospital in western Kenya. Children with severe anemia were compared with children who had symptoms of uncomplicated malaria and with asymptomatic children. Cytofluorometry was used to quantify in vitro erythrophagocytosis and to measure red cell surface immunoglobulin G (IgG) and the complement regulatory proteins CR1, CD55, and CD59. Red cells from patients with severe anemia were more susceptible to phagocytosis and also showed increased surface IgG and deficiencies in CR1 and CD55 compared with controls. Red cell surface CD59 was elevated in cases of severe anemia compared with asymptomatic controls but not as compared with symptomatic controls. The surface of red cells of children with severe P falciparum anemia is modified by the deposition of IgG and alterations in the levels of complement regulatory proteins. These changes could contribute to the accelerated destruction of red cells in these patients by mechanisms such as phagocytosis or complement-mediated lysis. (C) 2000 by The American Society of Hematology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1481-1486
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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