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To determine whether isolates of Plasmodium falciparum have intrinsically different cytoadherent properties and whether these differences contribute to the clinical severity of human falciparum malaria, we studied the cytoadherence to C32 melanoma cells in vitro of 59 parasite isolates from patients with naturally acquired infections in Thailand. Parasitized erythrocytes adhere to these melanoma cells principally via the glycoprotein CD36, which is also expressed on most vascular endothelium. In vitro cytoadherence was significantly greater for isolates from patients with biochemical evidence of severe malaria. The cytoadherent properties of P. falciparum parasites may thus be a virulence factor in human falciparum malaria. However, there was no correlation between the degree of in vitro cytoadherence and cerebral symptoms, which suggests that other receptors and/or host factors may be important in the adherence of malaria parasites to cerebral vascular endothelium. The cytokines tumor necrosis factor, interleukin-1, and gamma interferon, which have been implicated in the pathogenesis of cerebral malaria and are known to promote intercellular adhesion in other systems, did not enhance the cytoadherence of P. falciparum isolates to C32 melanoma cells.


Journal article


Infection and immunity

Publication Date





873 - 878


Department of Clinical Tropical Medicine, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


Erythrocytes, Tumor Cells, Cultured, Animals, Humans, Plasmodium falciparum, Malaria, Cytokines, Analysis of Variance, Prospective Studies, Virulence, Cell Adhesion, Adult, Female, Male