Cerebral malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum is the severest form of the disease resulting in the morbidity of a huge number of people worldwide. Development of effective curatives is essential in order to overcome the fatality of cerebral malaria. Earlier studies have shown the presence of salicylic acid (SA) in malaria parasite P. falciparum, which plays a critical role in the manifestation of cerebral malaria. Further, the application of SA for the treatment of acute symptoms in cerebral malaria increases the activity of iNOS leading to severe inflammation-mediated death, also called as Reye's syndrome. Therefore, modulation of the level of SA might be a novel approach to neutralize the symptoms of cerebral malaria. The probable source of parasite SA is the shikimate pathway, which produces chorismate, a precursor to aromatic amino acids and other secondary metabolites like SA in the parasite. In this work, we performed the immunological, pathological and biochemical studies in mice infected with chorismate synthase knocked-out Plasmodium berghei ANKA, which does not produce SA. Fewer cerebral outcomes were observed as compared to the mice infected with wild-type parasite. The possible mechanism behind this protective effect might be the hindrance of SA-mediated induction of autophagy in the parasite, which helps in its survival in the stressed condition of brain microvasculature during cerebral malaria. The absence of SA leading to reduced parasite load along with the reduced pathological symptoms contributes to less fatality outcome by cerebral malaria.
Keywords: Cerebral malaria; Chorismate synthase; Plasmodium berghei ANKA; Plasmodium falciparum; Salicylic acid.
© 2020. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.