Navigation Links
Malaria parasites use camouflage to trick immune defences of pregnant women
Date:7/11/2011

Researchers from Rigshospitalet Copenhagen University Hospital and the University of Copenhagen have discovered why malaria parasites are able to hide from the immune defences of expectant mothers, allowing the parasite to attack the placenta. The discovery is an important part of the efforts researchers are making to understand this frequently fatal disease and to develop a vaccine.

Staff member at CMP. Photo: Lars Hviid"We have found one likely explanation for the length of time it takes for the expectant mother's immune defences to discover the infection in the placenta," says Lea Barfod, MSc, who is working with Professor Lars Hviid at the Centre for Medical Parasitology, University of Copenhagen.

"The parasites are able to assume a camouflage that prevents their recognition by the immune system antibodies which would otherwise combat them. So although the immune system has all the weapons it needs to fight the infection of the placenta, these weapons are ineffectual simply because the enemy is hard to spot. Ironically the camouflage also consists of antibodies, but of a type that does not help to fight infection."

The malaria parasite at war with the immune system

One human being in twelve is infected with malaria. That means 500 million people are carrying the tiny parasite, and it kills a million of them a year. The disease costs so many lives because the parasite constantly outmanoeuvres the human immune system. It starts by hiding in the red blood cells. The immune system does not bother with these as the spleen usually filters defective blood cells.

To avoid this filter, the parasite ejects a protein hook which attaches to the inner wall of the blood vessel, and even if the immune system antibodies destroy one such hook, the parasite has more than sixty in its arsenal. One of them has evolved specially to attach to the placenta. While the war is being waged the parasite propagates and infects more and more red blood cells, which are normally used for transporting nutrients and oxygen around the body.

Fighting from house to house

"In an advanced version of hide-and-seek the parasites keep looking for new ways of preventing the antibodies from recognising them. It is a kind of urban guerrilla war in which the fighting is conducted from house to house," says Lars Hviid.

"One example is the ability of the parasites to hide in the placenta. The first time an African woman conceives her placenta provides a new opportunity for the parasite to hide: a new house, so to speak, and in a way that prevents discovery by the immune system. It takes time for the immune defences to react to the new threat, and meanwhile the camouflaged parasite harms the woman and her unborn child."

The researchers are now going to study whether the malaria parasite also uses its camouflage at other stages of an infection.

"Perhaps it is not only the parasites in the placenta that are capable of hiding like this," Lars Hviid says.

"It takes the body a surprisingly long time to develop protection from Malaria, and perhaps the trick we have just discovered is part of the explanation. It is important for us to find out if this is the case in order to help us to understand malaria in general, but also to help us in our efforts to develop a vaccination. We have plenty of work to be going on with," Lars Hviid concludes.


'/>"/>

Contact: Professor Lars Hviid
lhviid@sund.ku.dk
452-274-7426
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Penn researchers show new evidence of genetic arms race against malaria
2. Scripps Research scientist wins $1.9 million grant to study malaria
3. New malaria protein structure upends theory of how cells grow and move
4. 2020 vision of vaccines for malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS
5. Top Australian malaria researcher elected Fellow of the Royal Society
6. Malaria against malaria: A pre-existing malaria infection can prevent a second infection
7. €12 million ($16.9 million) project to develop new tools for malaria control
8. Insight into parasite family planning could help target malaria
9. Antifungal compound found on tropical seaweed has promising antimalarial properties
10. Floating spores kill malaria mosquito larvae
11. University of South Florida and Draper team to create advanced devices for testing malaria drugs
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/5/2017)... April 5, 2017 Today HYPR Corp. ... the server component of the HYPR platform is officially ... the end-to-end security architecture that empowers biometric authentication across ... has already secured over 15 million users across the ... of connected home product suites and physical access represent ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... The research team of The Hong Kong ... identification by adopting ground breaking 3D fingerprint minutiae recovery and matching ... and accuracy for use in identification, crime investigation, immigration control, security ... ... A research team led by ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... 2017 The Controller General of Immigration from Maldives ... Algeen have received the prestigious international IAIR Award for the most ... Reading ... Maldives ... Abdulla Algeen (small picture on the right) have received the IAIR award ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... of a United States multicenter, prospective clinical study that demonstrates the accuracy ... test capable of identifying clinically significant acute bacterial and viral respiratory tract ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to improve patient outcomes and quality of life, will ... analytical testing are being attributed to new regulatory requirements for all new drug ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... Andi Purple announced Dr. Suneel I. Sheikh, the co-founder, CEO and chief research ... Inc. has been selected for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... ... a basic first aid supply for any work environment, but most personal eye wash can ... a dangerous substance enters both eyes? It’s one less decision, and likely quicker response time ... , “Whether its dirt and debris, or an acid or alkali, getting anything in your ...
Breaking Biology Technology: