Relationship Between Plasma Interleukin-12 (IL-12) and IL-18 Levels and Severe Malarial Anemia in an Area of Holoendemicity in Western Kenya

Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2003 May;10(3):362-6. doi: 10.1128/cdli.10.3.362-366.2003.


In this study, we investigated whether levels of interleukin-12 (IL-12) and IL-18 in plasma are associated with severe malarial anemia outcomes in an area of holoendemicity in western Kenya. We compared plasma IL-12 and IL-18 levels in six groups of children grouped into the categories aparasitemic, asymptomatic, mild malaria, high-density uncomplicated malaria (UC), moderate malarial anemia (MMA), or severe malarial anemia (SMA). IL-12 levels were significantly reduced in children with SMA (P < 0.05) but not in other groups compared to children in the aparasitemic control group. IL-18, a cytokine known to be critical for the induction of gamma interferon along with IL-12, was produced more frequently (70%) in children with UC (P = 0.06) than in children in the aparasitemic control group (32%). However, in the SMA group the IL-18 response rate declined to 30%, which was similar to that in the aparasitemic control group, which showed a 32% response rate. This finding suggests that the IL-18 response may be impaired in children with SMA. In summary, the results from this study support the hypothesis that impairment of IL-12 and/or IL-18 response may contribute to the development of severe malarial anemia in areas of holoendemicity for malaria.

MeSH terms

  • Blackwater Fever / blood
  • Blackwater Fever / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Endemic Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Interleukin-12 / blood*
  • Interleukin-18 / blood*
  • Kenya
  • Malaria / blood
  • Malaria / classification
  • Malaria / etiology


  • Interleukin-18
  • Interleukin-12
  • Interferon-gamma