Plasmodium berghei infection: dichloroacetate improves survival in rats with lactic acidosis

Exp Parasitol. 1995 Jun;80(4):624-32. doi: 10.1006/expr.1995.1078.


The kinetics of Plasmodium berghei infection and the development of lactic acidosis, hypoglycemia, and anemia were defined in young Wistar rats. This model of metabolic dysfunction, which is similar to that of severe human malaria, was used to test the hypothesis that dichloroacetate, a treatment for lactic acidosis, prolonged survival in rats receiving a single antimalarial dose of quinine (20 mg/kg). Rats with hyperlactatemia (lactate > 5 mmol/liter, N = 183) were randomized to receive either dichloroacetate (100 mg/kg, N = 99) or saline (N = 84) and were monitored for outcome (survival or death) for 50 hr. Logistic regression modeling adjusting for baseline venous lactate concentration demonstrated that dichloroacetate increases survival rates in rats with venous lactate concentrations between 5 and 8.9 mmol/liter (odds ratio > 2.2, P < 0.021). This is the first demonstration that specific intervention to treat lactic acidosis can prolong survival and suggests that dichloroacetate may be useful as adjunctive therapy in the management of lactic acidosis complicating severe falciparum malaria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis, Lactic / drug therapy*
  • Acidosis, Lactic / etiology
  • Acidosis, Lactic / mortality
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Dichloroacetic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Hematocrit
  • Lactates / blood
  • Logistic Models
  • Malaria / complications*
  • Malaria / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Parasitemia / complications
  • Plasmodium berghei*
  • Quinine / therapeutic use
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Blood Glucose
  • Lactates
  • Dichloroacetic Acid
  • Quinine