The anemia of malaria infection: role of inflammatory cytokines.

Michael A. McDevitt, Jianlin Xie, Victor Gordeuk, Richard Bucala

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Death from malaria occurs from the complications of the infection: cerebral manifestations leading to coma and a severe and refractory anemia leading to hypoxia and cardiac decompensation. Several mechanisms have been identified to play a role in the pathogenesis of malarial anemia, such as erythrocyte lysis and phagocytosis, and sequestration of parasitized red blood cells, but recent data indicate that these mechanisms (singly or in combination) do not adequately explain the severity of this anemia. By contrast, hematologic studies have shown that bone marrow suppression and ineffective erythropoiesis contribute importantly to the severe anemia of malaria infection. The host mechanisms responsible for suppression of erythropoiesis may involve an excessive or sustained innate immune response or a pathologic skewing of the T-cell differentiation response with the attendant production of certain proinflammatory cytokines. Experimental data also indicate that severe malarial anemia is associated with the immunologic expression of a circulating inhibitor of erythropoiesis that functionally antagonizes the action of erythropoietin. We review the clinical and experimental basis for these concepts and discuss ongoing experimental and genetic studies aimed at unraveling the molecular basis of this malaria-induced bone marrow suppression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-106
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent hematology reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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