Emerging Infectious Diseases 2021; 27(2): 430 - 442

Plasma MicroRNA Profiling of Plasmodium falciparum Biomass and Association with Severity of Malaria Disease.

Gupta H, Rubio M, Sitoe A, Varo R, Cisteró P, Madrid L, Cuamba I, Jiménez A, Martiáñez-Vendrell X, Barrios D, Pantano L, Brimacombe A, Bustamante M, Bassat Q, Mayor A
Severe malaria (SM) is a major public health problem in malaria-endemic countries. Sequestration of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes in vital organs and the associated inflammation leads to organ dysfunction. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), which are rapidly released from damaged tissues into the host fluids, constitute a promising biomarker for the prognosis of SM. We applied next-generation sequencing to evaluate the differential expression of miRNAs in SM and in uncomplicated malaria (UM) in children in Mozambique. Six miRNAs were associated with in vitro P. falciparum cytoadhesion, severity in children, and P. falciparum biomass. Relative expression of hsa-miR-4497 quantified by TaqMan-quantitative reverse transcription PCR was higher in plasma of children with SM than those with UM (p<0.048) and again correlated with P. falciparum biomass (p = 0.033). These findings suggest that different physiopathological processes in SM and UM lead to differential expression of miRNAs and suggest a pathway for assessing their prognostic value malaria.