Differentiating the pathologies of cerebral malaria by postmortem parasite counts

Nat Med. 2004 Feb;10(2):143-5. doi: 10.1038/nm986. Epub 2004 Jan 25.


To study the pathogenesis of fatal cerebral malaria, we conducted autopsies in 31 children with this clinical diagnosis. We found that 23% of the children had actually died from other causes. The remaining patients had parasites sequestered in cerebral capillaries, and 75% of those had additional intra- and perivascular pathology. Retinopathy was the only clinical sign distinguishing malarial from nonmalarial coma. These data have implications for treating malaria patients, designing clinical trials and assessing malaria-specific disease associations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autopsy
  • Brain / parasitology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Capillaries / parasitology
  • Cause of Death
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Child
  • Coma
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Cerebral / diagnosis
  • Malaria, Cerebral / mortality
  • Malaria, Cerebral / parasitology*
  • Malaria, Cerebral / pathology*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / isolation & purification*