Objective and methods: Fever tends to start at a lower level of parasitemia in Plasmodium vivax or ovale than in P. falciparum malaria, but hyperparasitemia and complications are more likely to occur in P. falciparum malaria. Therefore, we compared the relationship between parasitemia and host response parameters before therapy in 97 patients with P. faciparum malaria (18 with complications), and 28 with P. vivax or ovale malaria.
Results: In both types of malaria, parasitemia correlated with blood levels of tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), Thrombin-antithrombin III (TAT) and elastase, and these parameters were higher in P. falciparum malaria than in P. vivax or ovale malaria. In contrast, the ratios of TNF-alpha, TAT, elastase, and LDH per parasitized erythrocyte were higher in P. vivax or ovale malaria than in uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria. They were lowest in complicated disease. Multivariate regression analysis confirmed that parasitemia did not affect these differences.
Conclusion: The host response may reach full strength at lower parasitemia in Plasmodium vivax or ovale, than in P. falciparum malaria. With hyperparasitemia in P. falciparum malaria, the host response seems to be unable to control parasite multiplication.