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Title: Anaemia caused by asymptomatic plasmodium falciparum infection in semi-immune african schoolchildren.
Authors: Kurtzhals, J.A.L.
Addae, M.M.
Akanmori, B.D.
Dunyo, S.
Koram, K.A.
Appawu, M.A.
Nkrumah, F.K.
Hviid, L.
Keywords: Anaemia; Asymptomatic infection; Bone marrow; Ghana; Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Schoolchildren; Tumour necrosis factor
Issue Date: 1999
Citation: Kurtzhals, J. A. L., Addae, M. M., Akanmori, B. D., Dunyo, S., Koram, K. A., Appawu, M. A., . . . Hviid, L. (1999). Anaemia caused by asymptomatic plasmodium falciparum infection in semi-immune african schoolchildren. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 93(6), 623-627.
Abstract: A cohort of 250 Ghanaian schoolchildren aged 5-15 years was followed clinically and parasitologically for 4 months in 1997/98 in order to study the effect of asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum infections on haematological indices and bone-marrow responses. Of the 250 children 65 met the predefined study criteria. Thus, 14 children were parasite-free throughout (group 1), 44 had P. falciparum in all blood samples collected but no symptoms of malaria (group 2), and 7 had 1 malaria attack during the study period (group 3). At the end of the study the mean haemoglobin (Hb) level in group 1 was 123 g/L, significantly higher than the value of 114 g/L in groups 2 and 3 (P < 0.02, adjusted for age and splenomegaly). The low Hb in group 2 was associated with subnormal plasma iron. Low Hb was associated with elevated erythropoietin (EPO) levels, and there was a positive correlation between EPO and reticulocyte counts. However, the reticulocyte response to EPO was more pronounced in uninfected than in infected children, suggesting a partial interference with erythropoiesis in asymptomatic infections. Children with asymptomatic infections had significantly higher plasma levels of tumour necrosis factor than uninfected children (geometric means 50 ng/L and 27 ng/L, respectively, P < 0.001) and this cytokine may contribute to bone-marrow suppression and disturbed iron metabolism. We suggest that asymptomatic malaria leads to a homeostatic imbalance in which erythrocyte loss due to parasite replication is only partially compensated for by increased erythropoiesis. The consequences of the reduced Hb levels on the development and cognitive abilities of children with asymptomatic infections, and the risk of precipitation of iron deficiency, deserve further study and should be considered in malaria control programmes that aim at reducing morbidity rather than transmission.
ISSN: 00359203
Appears in Collections:Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research

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