Pathophysiology and neurologic sequelae of cerebral malaria

Nicoline Schiess, Andres Villabona-Rueda, Karissa E. Cottier, Katherine Huether, James Chipeta, Monique F. Stins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cerebral malaria (CM), results from Plasmodium falciparum infection, and has a high mortality rate. CM survivors can retain life-long post CM sequelae, including seizures and neurocognitive deficits profoundly affecting their quality of life. As the Plasmodium parasite does not enter the brain, but resides inside erythrocytes and are confined to the lumen of the brain's vasculature, the neuropathogenesis leading to these neurologic sequelae is unclear and under-investigated. Interestingly, postmortem CM pathology differs in brain regions, such as the appearance of haemorragic punctae in white versus gray matter. Various host and parasite factors contribute to the risk of CM, including exposure at a young age, parasite- and host-related genetics, parasite sequestration and the extent of host inflammatory responses. Thus far, several proposed adjunctive treatments have not been successful in the treatment of CM but are highly needed. The region-specific CM neuro-pathogenesis leading to neurologic sequelae is intriguing, but not sufficiently addressed in research. More attention to this may lead to the development of effective adjunctive treatments to address CM neurologic sequelae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number266
JournalMalaria journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 23 2020


  • Blood brain barrier
  • Cerebral malaria
  • Heterogeneity
  • Inflammation
  • Neurologic sequelae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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