Cytokine levels during mild and cerebral falciparum malaria in children living in a mesoendemic area

Trop Med Int Health. 1997 Jul;2(7):673-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3156.1997.d01-355.x.


Cell-mediated immunity and cytokines are probably involved in the pathogenesis of malaria. To investigate the role and the activity of different immune cells, we measured levels of tumour necrosis factor-(TNF-alpha), gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) and several interleukins (IL-2, IL-4, IL-6 and IL-10) in children with mild (MM) and cerebral (CM) Plasmodium falciparum malaria and compared them with those of healthy children from Guadalupe--Lobata District, St. Tomé Island, where malaria is mesoendemic. Both groups of patients had significantly higher levels of IL-6, IL-10 and TNF-alpha than controls. For IL-2, IL-4 and IFN-gamma we found no difference between the groups. However, 24 h after admission the levels of IL-10 and IL-6 were significantly higher in CM than in MM patients, although 7 days after treatment they returned to normal levels, similar to those found in control children. Therefore, TNF-alpha IL-6 and IL-10 increase during Plasmodium falciparum attacks in all children, not only in those with cerebral malaria. This finding suggests the activation of the monocyte/macrophage system during the early stage of clinical malaria.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Africa, Western / epidemiology
  • Brain Diseases / immunology*
  • Brain Diseases / mortality
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Disease Reservoirs*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Malaria, Falciparum / immunology*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / mortality
  • Male
  • Parasitemia / immunology*
  • Parasitemia / mortality


  • Cytokines