Nitric oxide production and nitric oxide synthase activity in malaria-exposed Papua New Guinean children and adults show longitudinal stability and no association with parasitemia.
Individuals in areas of intense malaria transmission exhibit resistance (or tolerance) to levels of parasitemia in their blood that would normally be associated with febrile illness in malaria-naive subjects. The resulting level of parasitemia associated with illness (the pyrogenic threshold) is highest in childhood and lowest in adulthood. Clinical parallels between malarial and bacterial endotoxin tolerance have led to the supposition that both share common physiological processes, with nitric oxide (NO) proposed as a candidate mediator. The hypotheses that NO mediates tolerance and blood stage parasite killing in vivo were tested by determining its relationship to age and parasitemia cross-sectionally and longitudinally in a population of 195 children and adults from Papua New Guinea encountering intense malaria exposure. Despite pharmacological clearance of asymptomatic parasitemia, NO production and mononuclear cell NO synthase (NOS) activity were remarkably stable within individuals over time, were not influenced by parasitemia, and varied little with age. These results contrast with previous smaller cross-sectional studies. Baseline NO production and NOS activity did not protect against recurrent parasitemia, consistent with previous data suggesting that NO does not have antiparasitic effects against blood stage infection in vivo. The NO indices studied were markedly higher in specimens from study subjects than in samples from Australian controls, and NOS activity was significantly associated with plasma immunoglobulin E levels, consistent with induction of NO by chronic exposure to other infections and/or host genetic factors. These results suggest that NO is unlikely to mediate killing of blood stage parasites in this setting and is unlikely to be the primary mediator in the acquisition or maintenance of malarial tolerance.
Boutlis, CS; Weinberg, JB; Baker, J; Bockarie, MJ; Mgone, CS; Cheng, Q; Anstey, NM
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