A microfluidic system to study cytoadhesion of Plasmodium falciparum infected erythrocytes to primary brain microvascularendothelial cells

Lab Chip. 2011 Sep 7;11(17):2994-3000. doi: 10.1039/c1lc20131j. Epub 2011 Jul 11.


The cellular events leading to severe and complicated malaria in some Plasmodium falciparum infections are poorly understood. Additional tools are required to better understand the pathogenesis of this disease. In this technical report, we describe a microfluidic culture system and image processing algorithms that were developed to observe cytoadhesion interactions of P. falciparum parasitized erythrocytes rolling on primary brain microvascularendothelial cells. We isolated and cultured human primary microvascular brain endothelial cells in a closed loop microfluidic culture system where a peristaltic pump and media reservoirs were integrated onto a microscope stage insert. We developed image processing methods to enhance contrast of rolling parasitized erythrocytes on endothelial cells and to estimate the local wall shear stress. The velocity of parasitized erythrocytes rolling on primary brain microvascularendothelial cells was then measured under physiologically relevant wall shear stresses. Finally, we deployed this method successfully at a field site in Blantyre, Malawi. The method is a promising new tool for the investigation of the pathogenesis of severe malaria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / cytology
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology*
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Erythrocytes / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Microcirculation
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / methods
  • Plasmodium falciparum / physiology*
  • Shear Strength