Intraleucocytic malaria pigment and clinical severity of malaria in children.
Intraleucocytic malaria pigment has been suggested as a measure of disease severity in malaria. We have tested this hypothesis by studying 146 children aged 6 months to 14 years in 4 categories--cerebral malaria, mild malaria, asymptomatic malaria and 'no malaria'--in Ibadan, Nigeria, an area of intense malaria transmission in Africa. Children with cerebral malaria were studied at the university hospital, those with mild malaria at 2 primary health centres and the other 2 groups were studied in a primary school. The proportion of pigment-containing neutrophils showed a clear rise across the spectrum no malaria--asymptomatic malaria--mild malaria--cerebral malaria (median values 2.0%, 6.5%, 9.0% and 27.0%, respectively; P < 0.0001). The proportion of pigment-containing monocytes did not differ significantly between the mild malaria, asymptomatic malaria and no malaria groups but the cerebral malaria group had a higher median value than the other 3 groups. The ratio of pigment-containing neutrophils to pigment-containing monocytes showed the same trend across the groups of subjects as was observed with the number of pigment-containing neutrophils. It is concluded that the pigment-containing neutrophil count is a simple marker of disease severity in childhood malaria in addition to the parasite count.
Amodu, OK; Adeyemo, AA; Olumese, PE; Gbadegesin, RA
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