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BACKGROUND: Severe malaria is characterized by microvascular obstruction, endothelial dysfunction, and reduced levels of L-arginine and nitric oxide (NO). L-Arginine infusion improves endothelial function in moderately severe malaria. Neither the longitudinal course of endothelial dysfunction nor factors associated with recovery have been characterized in severe malaria. METHODS: Endothelial function was measured longitudinally in adults with severe malaria (n = 49) or moderately severe malaria (n = 48) in Indonesia, using reactive hyperemia peripheral arterial tonometry (RH-PAT). In a mixed-effects model, changes in RH-PAT index values in patients with severe malaria were related to changes in parasitemia, lactate, acidosis, and plasma L-arginine concentrations. RESULTS: Among patients with severe malaria, the proportion with endothelial dysfunction fell from 94% (46/49 patients) to 14% (6/42 patients) before discharge or death (P < .001). In severe malaria, the median time to normal endothelial function was 49 h (interquartile range, 20-70 h) after the start of antimalarial therapy. The mean increase in L-arginine concentrations in patients with severe malaria was 11 micromol/L/24 h (95% confidence interval [CI], 9-13 micromol/L/24 h), from a baseline of 49 micromol/L (95% CI, 37-45 micromol/L). Improvement of endothelial function in patients with severe malaria correlated with increasing levels of L-arginine (r = 0.56; P = .008) and decreasing levels of lactate (r = -0.44; P = .001). CONCLUSIONS: Recovery of endothelial function in severe malaria is associated with recovery from hypoargininemia and lactic acidosis. Agents that can improve endothelial NO production and endothelial function, such as L-arginine, may have potential as adjunctive therapy early during the course of severe malaria.

Original publication

DOI

10.1086/590209

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Infect Dis

Publication Date

15/08/2008

Volume

198

Pages

602 - 608

Keywords

Acidosis, Adult, Arginine, Biological Availability, Endothelium, Vascular, Humans, Lactic Acid, Malaria, Falciparum, Nitric Oxide, Plasma, Recovery of Function