Endotheliopathy and Platelet Dysfunction as Hallmarks of Fatal Lassa Fever

Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Nov;26(11):2625-2637. doi: 10.3201/eid2611.191694.


Lassa fever (LF) causes multisystem disease and has a fatality rate <70%. Severe cases exhibit abnormal coagulation, endothelial barrier disruption, and dysfunctional platelet aggregation but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. In Sierra Leone during 2015-2018, we assessed LF patients' day-of-admission plasma samples for levels of proteins necessary for coagulation, fibrinolysis, and platelet function. P-selectin, soluble endothelial protein C receptor, soluble thrombomodulin, plasminogen activator inhibitor 1, ADAMTS-13, von Willebrand factor, tissue factor, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule 1, and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 were more elevated in LF patients than in controls. Endothelial protein C receptor, thrombomodulin, intercellular adhesion molecule 1, plasminogen activator inhibitor 1, D-dimer, and hepatocyte growth factor were higher in fatal than nonfatal LF cases. Platelet disaggregation occurred only in samples from fatal LF cases. The impaired homeostasis and platelet dysfunction implicate alterations in the protein C pathway, which might contribute to the loss of endothelial barrier function in fatal infections.

Keywords: Lassa fever; coagulation; fibrinolysis; hemorrhagic fever; hemostasis; platelet; protein C; vector-borne infections; viruses; zoonoses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Coagulation
  • Blood Platelets / pathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endothelium / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Fibrinolysis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lassa Fever* / diagnosis
  • Lassa Fever* / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sierra Leone
  • Young Adult