963. Whole blood transcriptome analysis reveals differences in erythropoiesis and neurologically relevant pathways between cerebral malaria and severe malarial anemia

Srinivas Nallandhighal, Gregory Park, Yen-Yi Ho, Robert Opoka, Chandy John, Tuan Tran

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Background: Plasmodium falciparum malaria can rapidly progress to severe disease that can lead to death if left untreated. Severe malaria cases commonly present as severe malarial anemia (SMA), defined in children as hemoglobin (Hb)

Methods: In a cross-sectional study, we compared genome-wide transcription profiles of whole blood obtained from Ugandan children with acute CM (n = 17) or SMA (n = 17) and community children without P. falciparum infection (n = 12) who were enrolled in a parent cohort study of severe malaria. We determined the relationships between gene expression, hematological indices, and plasma biomarkers, including inflammatory cytokines.

Results: Both CM and SMA demonstrated enrichment of dendritic cell activation, inflammatory/TLR/chemokines, monocyte, and neutrophil modules but depletion of lymphocyte modules. Neurodegenerative disease and neuroinflammation pathways were enriched in CM. Increased Nrf2 pathway gene expression corresponded with increased plasma heme oxygenase-1 and the heme catabolite bilirubin in a manner specific to children with both SMA and sickle cell disease. Reticulocyte-specific gene expression was markedly decreased in CM relative to SMA despite higher Hb levels and appropriate increases in plasma erythropoietin. Viral sensing/interferon regulatory factor (IRF) 2 module (M111) expression and plasma IP-10 levels both negatively correlated with reticulocyte-specific signatures, but only M111 expression independently predicted decreased reticulocyte-specific gene expression after controlling for leukocyte count, Hb level, parasitemia, and clinical syndrome by multiple regression.

Conclusion: Differences in the blood transcriptome of CM and SMA relate to neurologically relevant pathways and erythropoiesis. Erythropoietic suppression during severe malaria is more pronounced during CM versus SMA and is positively associated with IRF2 blood signatures. Future studies are needed to validate these findings.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalPaediatrics and Child Health, East Africa
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018

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