Invasion of erythroblasts by Pasmodium vivax: A new mechanism contributing to malarial anemia

Ultrastruct Pathol. 2009 Oct;33(5):236-42. doi: 10.3109/01913120903251643.


Severe malarial anemia causes considerable mortality and morbidity in endemic areas. Possible mechanisms underlying the anemia include lysis of parasitized and nonparasitized red cells as well as parasite product-mediated effects on erythropoiesis. The latter include suppression of erythropoiesis, dyserythropoiesis, and ineffective erythropoiesis. Present transmission electron microscope data in two cases of Pasmodium vivax malaria show a hitherto undescribed mechanism contributing to malarial anemia, namely, infection of erythroblasts by parasites and their subsequent degradation. No parasites were detected in the peripheral blood but parasites were found in the bone marrow. These findings emphasise the value of bone marrow examination in the diagnosis and eradication of malaria.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia / parasitology*
  • Anemia / pathology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / parasitology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / pathology
  • Erythroblasts / parasitology*
  • Erythroblasts / pathology
  • Erythropoiesis / physiology
  • Female
  • Hemolysis
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Malaria / parasitology*
  • Malaria / pathology
  • Male
  • Plasmodium vivax / isolation & purification
  • Plasmodium vivax / physiology*
  • Plasmodium vivax / ultrastructure