Characterisation of the immunopathology associated with cerebral malaria

Louise Randall (2009). Characterisation of the immunopathology associated with cerebral malaria PhD Thesis, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland.

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Author Louise Randall
Thesis Title Characterisation of the immunopathology associated with cerebral malaria
School, Centre or Institute School of Population Health
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-03
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Christian R. Engwerda
Professor Michael Good
Total pages 225
Total colour pages 11
Total black and white pages 214
Subjects 320000 Medical and Health Sciences
Abstract/Summary Cerebral malaria (CM) is a severe complication of Plasmodium falciparum infection, predominantly experienced by children in sub-Saharan Africa. Patients with CM are comatose and often convulse, develop retinal haemorrhages and motor abnormalities. Recent histological studies on brain tissue obtained from patients who have died from CM have identified heterogeneity in brain pathology. As a result, CM is considered to be a complex disease that may be comprised of a number of syndromes. Patients admitted to hospital with CM are treated with anti-malaria drugs; however, even in the best equipped hospitals, a large number of CM patients die within the first 24-hours following hospital admission before the anti-malarial treatment can have an effect. For this reason, it is critical that the mechanisms leading to CM are elucidated in order to develop effective adjunct therapies. Experimental cerebral malaria (ECM) caused by P. berghei ANKA (PbA) infection of susceptible mice displays many features of human CM. A key feature of this model is the pivotal role of the host immune response in pathogenesis, particularly the involvement of T cells. Evidence, predominantly from ECM studies, suggests that tumour necrosis factor (TNF) superfamily (TNFSF) members play critical roles in the immunopathology associated with CM. The first hypothesis investigated in this thesis was that key immune response pathways contribute to the development of CM and, despite the heterogeneity observed between CM patients, common pathways exist that may be targeted to prevent CM. The second hypothesis tested was that members of the TNF superfamily modulate the immune response to infection and are involved in the development of pathology observed in severe malaria (SM). In order to investigate the above hypotheses, three projects were carried out. First, we examined the great heterogeneity in brain expression profiles between ECM-susceptible CBA/CaH (CBA) and C57BL/6 (B6) mice at the peak of disease, as well as the significant differences in circulating cytokine expression and expansion of microglia in brain tissue. We found that, despite these differences, common therapeutic and preventative strategies existed to disrupt the development of ECM in the two ECM-susceptible mouse strains. Second, studies in ECM mice have identified T cells and TNFSF members, TNF and lymphotoxin (LT)-a, as critical mediators of ECM pathology. We extend these studies to examine the role of the TNFSF member LIGHT in ECM. Specific blockade of LIGHT signalling through its receptor, LTβR, in PbA-infected B6 mice abrogated the hallmark features of ECM brain pathology and improved the control of parasite growth. Importantly, specific blockade of LIGHT-LTβR signalling caused the expansion of splenic monocytes and an overall enhanced capacity to remove and process antigen during infection. Together, this study discovered a novel pathogenic role for LIGHT and LTβR in ECM and identified this TNF family receptor-ligand interaction as a potential target for therapeutic intervention in SM. Finally, we investigated the role of LTa in human SM and, more specifically, CM. We tested whether the polymorphisms within the gene encoding LTa (LTA) were associated with susceptibility to SM in Papuan Highland children and adults who had migrated from an area without malaria pressure to a region where malaria is endemic. Despite a lack of association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the LTA/TNF locus and susceptibility to SM in Papuan Highland children and adults, we found a significant association between a SNP in the LTa-related gene encoding galactin-2 (LGALS2) and susceptibility to CM in children, but not adults in this study population. Interestingly, no association was found between this SNP and susceptibility to CM in Tanzanian children originating from and living in a malaria endemic region. These results suggest that there may be differences in the mechanisms leading to CM in adults and children, as well as between individuals from malaria endemic and non-endemic areas. Together, the findings outlined in this thesis are important to both the understanding of the underlying mechanisms leading to CM and to the development of improved interventions and adjunct therapies.
Keyword Plasmodium
cerebral malaria
Tumour Necrosis Factor
Additional Notes Pages to be printed in colour: 22, 27, 40, 50, 87, 90, 134, 139, 152, 153, 155 Pages to be printed in landscape: 22, 154, 156, 162

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Created: Mon, 02 Mar 2009, 10:25:05 EST by Ms Louise Randall on behalf of Library - Information Access Service