Novel signature in the brains of children with cerebral malaria

Novel signature in the brains of children with cerebral malaria

CM (cerebral malaria), one of the most severe complications of malaria that can lead to behavioral problems, seizures, coma or death.

While CM is fairly rare, affecting about 2 percent of children with the disease, says the author, it is thought to be responsible for half of malaria deaths, "so it's a big deal. Even with appropriate treatment, 15-20 percent of children affected with CM die.

In autopsied brain tissue from over 100 African children, researchers observed that children with CM had more than nine times the amount of white blood cells called monocytes, which help scavenge dead tissue, and platelets, which promote blood clotting, compared to children who did not have malaria.

Accumulation of these cells was twice as high in HIV-positive children compared to those who did not have HIV.

Researchers also noted that HIV-infected children with CM were older than children without HIV (an average of 99 months vs. 32 months) and were not severely immunocompromised, and that monocytes and platelets were significantly more prevalent in HIV-positive children with CM than neutrophils, white blood cells that are among the first responders for many infections.