Proteomics reveal deadly malaria in children
Malaria-related complications remain a major cause of death for children in many parts of the world. Why some children develop these complications while others don't is still not understood.
A multidisciplinary group of scientists and clinicians from Karolinska Institutet, KTH and Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab) in Sweden together with colleagues from the UK and Nigeria, reports results of a systematic proteomics approach to the question in PLOS Pathogens. They compared proteins in the blood of uninfected children with those in the blood of infected ones, and also proteins in blood from children with different severe malaria syndromes with proteins in blood from uncomplicated cases.
The researchers analyzed over 1000 proteins in more than 700 children. To make the study more rigorous, the samples were divided into "discovery" and "verification" sets, and only associations that were found in both were reported. There were 41 proteins that could distinguish between malaria patients and uninfected children from the same community. Most of these were components of the inflammatory response.
The researchers also found proteins that were specific to the two most deadly complicated malaria syndromes in children, namely severe malaria anemia and cerebral malaria. For both, combinations of proteins, so-called "signatures", could identify the specific syndrome with high accuracy.
Study leader was Peter Nilsson, professor of proteomics at KTH and SciLifeLab. Participating from Karolinska Institutet was among others Mats Wahlgren, professor of clinical parasitology at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology. The study was supported by among others VINNOVA, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, , the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Karolinska Institutet Distinguished Professor Award.
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PLoS Pathog. 2014 Apr;10(4):e1004038