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Plasmodium falciparum

Plasmodium falciparum

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Plasmodium falciparum
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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 Plasmodium falciparum
Blood smear of 
 Plasmodium falciparum
Kingdom:ProtistaPhylum:ApicomplexaClass:AconoidasidaOrder:HaemosporidaFamily:PlasmodiidaeGenus:
Species:
 P. falciparum
 Plasmodium falciparum
Welch,1897
 Plasmodium falciparum
is a protozoan  parasite,one of the species of 
that causemalariain humans. It is transmitted by the female
 P. falciparum
is themost dangerous of these infections as
 P. falciparum
(or malignant) malaria has the highest ratesof complications and mortality. In addition it accounts for 80% of all human malarial infectionsand 90% of the deaths. It is more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa than in other regions of theworld.
Contents
[hide]
 
[edit] Background
Malaria is caused by an infection with protozoa of the genus
 Plasmodium.
The name malaria,from the Italian
mala aria
, meaning
bad air 
, comes from the linkage suggested byGiovanniMaria Lancisi(1717) of malariawith the poisonous vapours of swamps. This species name comes from the Greek 
 falx
meaning
 sickle-shaped 
, and
 parum
meaning
birth
or 
multiple births
.The organism itself was first seen by Laveranon November 6, 1880 at a military hospital in Constantine, Algeria, when he discovered amicrogametocyte exflagellating. Manson(1894) hypothesised that mosquitoes could transmit malaria - an association made considerably earlier in India, possibly as early as 2000BC
[
 
]
. This hypothesis was experimentally confirmedindependently byGiovanni Battista GrassiandRonald Ross in 1898. Grassi (1900) proposed an exerythrocytic stage in the life cycle, later confirmed by Short, Garnham, Covell and Shute(1948), who found
in the human liver.Around the world, malaria is the most significant parasitic disease of humans and claims the lives of more children worldwide than any other infectious disease. Since 1900, the area of theworld exposed to malaria has been halved, yet two billion more people are presently exposed.Morbidity, as well as mortality, is substantial. Infection rates in children in endemic areas are of the order of 50%: Chronic infection has been shown to reduce school scores by up to 15%.Reduction in the incidence of malaria coincides with increased economic output.While there are no effective vaccines for any of the six or more species that cause humanmalaria, drugs have been employed for centuries. In 1640, Huan del Vegofirst employed the tincture of thecinchonabark for treating malaria: The native Indians of Peruand Ecuador had  been using it even earlier for treating fevers. Thompson (1650) introduced this "Jesuits'bark" to England: Its first recorded use there was by Dr John Metford of  Northamptonin 1656.Morton (1696) presented the first detailed description of the clinical picture of malaria and of its
 
treatment with cinchona.Gize(1816) studied the extraction of crystallinequininefrom the cinchona  bark andPelletier andCaventou (1820) inFrance extracted pure quinine alkaloids, which they named quinine andcinchonine.
[edit] Plasmodium Life Cycle
See also: Plasmodium
 
When an infected mosquito bites a human,
sporozoites
enter the human circulation. These go toand penetrate the liver cells, where they asexually reproduce, via the process of 
schizogony
. Thisintracellular, asexually-dividing form of the parasite is known as a
microgamete
, which fertilizesthe female gametocyte, forming a zygote. The zygote develops into an
ookinete
, which thensticks to the gut wall of the mosquito, moves to the outermost layer of the stomach to form an
oocyst
.
[edit] Treatment and drug resistance
Attempts to make synthetic antimalarials began in 1891. Atabrinewas developed in 1963, was used widely throughout the Pacific in World War II but was deeply unpopular because of theyellowing of the skin it caused. In the late 1930s, the Germans developedchloroquine,which went into use in the North African campaigns.Mao Zedongencouraged Chinese scientists to findnew antimalarials after seeing the casualties in the Vietnam War.Artemisininwas discovered inthe 1970s based on a medicine described in China in the year 340. This new drug became knownto Western scientists in the late 1980s and early 1990s and is now a standard treatment. In 1976
 P. falciparum
was successfullycultured 
in vitro
for the first time which facilitated thedevelopment of new drugs substantially.
[edit] Vaccination
Although an antimalarial vaccine is urgently needed, infected individuals never develop asterilizing (complete) immunity, making the prospects for such a vaccine dim. The parasites liveinside cells, where they are largely hidden from the immune response. Infection has a profoundeffect on theimmune systemincluding immune suppression.Dendritic cellssuffer a maturation defect following interaction with infectederythrocytesand become unable to induce protectiveliver-stage immunity. Infected erythrocytes directly adhere to and activate peripheral bloodB cellsfrom nonimmune donors. The
var 
gene products, a group of highly expressed surfaceantigens, bind the Fab and Fc fragments of humanimmunoglobulinsin a fashion similar to  protein A to
, which may offer some protection to the parasite from thehuman immune system. Despite the poor prospects for a fully-protective vaccine, it may be possible to develop a vaccine that would reduce the severity of malaria for children living inendemic areas.
[edit] Microscopic appearance

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