Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Arresting Behaviour
19 November 2016

Arresting Behaviour

Delirium, seizures, and deep coma. These are all signs of cerebral malaria, one of the most severe consequences of being infected with the parasite Plasmodium falciparum. How this parasite causes cerebral malaria is still unclear. Researchers modelled this condition in mice using two types of Plasmodium; one that causes cerebral malaria and one that doesn’t. Using fluorescent microscopy they found both types caused the immune cells, T lymphocytes (green), to accumulate alongside blood vessels (red) in the brain. However comparing the behaviour of T cells in these brains revealed those in brains infected with parasites that cause cerebral malaria (pictured) behaved quite differently. They were arrested, moving more slowly and not venturing as far. More digging is now needed to find out how this uniquely sluggish behaviour contributes to the detriment of brain function in cerebral malaria.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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