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Antioxidants may help prevent malaria complicaton that leads to learning impairment
Date:6/25/2010

venting neurologic and cognitive impairment."

Zimmerman and colleagues in Brazil studied the persistence of cognitive damage in mice with documented cerebral malaria after cure of the acute parasitic disease with chloroquine, an antimalarial therapy. By administering a battery of behavioral tests to these mice, post-doctoral fellow Patricia Reis, Ph.D., determined that impairment in memory skills was still present 30 days after the initial malaria infection. Cognitive deficits that persist for years after the episode of cerebral malaria have also been reported in 11 percent to 28 percent of children who survive the infection.

"Although we believe that long-term cognitive dysfunction after cerebral malaria is initiated by injury to the brain during the initial period of untreated infection, it is possible that the mechanisms for persistent cognitive deficits are independent of those that cause neurological injury and death during acute cerebral malaria," says Zimmerman. "Future research is aimed at clarifying this point. However, we have been able to demonstrate that oxidative stress is present in the brains of mice infected with cerebral malaria."

Oxidative stress is a situation in which there is an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen-containing molecules that can damage cell structures and the body's ability to detoxify these molecules or repair the resulting damage.

Zimmerman and his colleagues found increased production of molecules indicative of high oxidative stress in the brains of mice with cerebral malaria. They also found that treating mice with a combination of chloroquine and two antioxidant agents, desferoxamine and N-acetylcysteine, at the first signs of cerebral malaria prevented both inflammatory and vascular changes in the tissues of the brain, as well as the development of persistent cognitive damage. The addition of antioxidants did not diminish the efficacy of chloroquine in eliminating Plasmodia
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Contact: Phil Sahm
phil.sahm@hsc.utah.edu
801-581-2517
University of Utah Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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