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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Potential Mechanism behind Cerebral Malaria Revealed by Movies of Immune Cells in Mice.

The findings of a new study published in PLOS Pathogens found out that the Immune system cells known as cytotoxic T cells attacks blood vessels and cause fatal swelling in the brains of mice with a condition that mirrors a severe complication of malaria in humans.  After contracting malaria, some people develop a complication known as cerebral malaria, which causes brain swelling and bleeding. Cerebral malaria is known to be the most severe neurological complication of infection with Plasmodium falciparum, a clinical syndrome characterized by coma. It is reported that Cerebral malaria kills 15 to 30 percent of the people afflicted or diagnosed of it. The worrisome part of it is that the mechanisms that cause the disease are not completely understood.


                                                       (c) Google Image

Dr. Phillip Swanson of the National Institutes of Health, Maryland, and colleagues peered into the brains of mice infected with a parasite that causes a similar fatal condition. They used a technique called intravital microscopy to capture movies of immune cell activity in the living mouse brain as the disease progressed. This was done in order to clarify the causes of cerebral malaria. When the scientists injected the mice with antibodies that prevented T cells from sticking to blood vessels, the fatal swelling was prevented. This confirmed that T cells play a major role in causing the mouse version of cerebral malaria. It also suggests potential new treatment strategies, should further research confirm that a similar mechanism is responsible for cerebral malaria in humans. The research revealed that cytotoxic T cells aggregated along blood vessels in the diseased mouse brain, interacting with tiny parasite fragments presented by the vessels. These interactions were directly associated with vascular leakage. The leaking blood vessels caused the brain to swell, and the resulting pressure killed neurons that keep the heart and lung functioning.

"By watching immune cells function in the living brain during cerebral malaria, the investigators of this study revealed that parasite-specific CD8+ T cells attacks the wall of the cerebral blood vessels, causing excessive swelling and damage to a vital brain center. This fatal disorder can be prevented by therapeutically displacing the pathogenic T cells from the vessel wall." As noted by the researcher.

Article: “CD8+ T Cells Induce Fatal Brainstem pathology during Cerebral Malaria via Luminal Antigen-Specific Engagement of Brain Vasculaturedoi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006022

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