One of the peculiar features of Plasmodium vivax malaria in South Korea is the surprisingly high frequency of thrombocytopenia. The mechanism by which this malaria-related thrombocytopenia develops and its role in the pathology, and progress of human infection with P. vivax have not yet been completely understood. In the present study, the serum cytokine profiles of cases of P. vivax malaria who presented with thrombocytopenia were compared with those of similar cases who did not have thrombocytopenia at presentation. The subjects were the 94 consecutive cases of P. vivax malaria who presented at five hospitals in South Korea (all near the Demilitarized Zone) between May 2000 and October 2002, 47 of whom had thrombocytopenia at presentation. When mean values and (S.E.) were compared, the thrombocytopenic patients were found not only to be generally older than the non-thrombocytopenic [25.3 (1.1) v. 21.3 (0.18) years; P < 0.001] but also to have presented with higher serum concentrations of aspartate aminotransferase [77.6 (16.6) v. 32.3 (7.4) U/litre; P < 0.0001], alanine aminotransferase [96.7 (19.0) v. 44.7 (12.0) U/litre; P = 0.0001], interleukin-1 [49.9 (7.4) v. 23.7 (5.1) pg/ml; P < 0.001], interleukin-6 [174.9 (26.4) v. 57.3 (14.6) pg/ml; P = 0.001], interleukin-10 [308.2 (39.6) v. 137.9 (23.1) pg/ml; P < 0.002] and transforming growth factor-β [1134.3 (387.5) v. 416.6 (183.8) pg/ml; P < 0.0001], and higher levels of parasitaemia [4345.7 (966.6) v. 1443.8 (222.7) parasites/μl; P = 0.03). The non-thrombocytopenic patients, however, had relatively high total leucocyte counts [5.8 (0.24) v. 5.4 (0.66) leucocytes/nl; P = 0.03]. The thrombocytopenia associated with P. vivax malaria in South Korea therefore appears to be associated with elevated serum concentrations of both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. To define the role of each cytokine in the development of thrombocytopenia during the course of acute P. vivax malaria, further prospective studies are needed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases