Background: Severe outcomes have been described for both Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax infections. The identification of sensitive and reliable markers of disease severity is fundamental to improving patient care. An intense proinflammatory response with oxidative stress and production of reactive oxygen species is present in malaria. Inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and antioxidant agents such as superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD-1) are likely candidate biomarkers for disease severity. Here we tested whether plasma levels of SOD-1 could serve as a biomarker of severe vivax malaria. Methodology/Principal Findings: Plasma samples were obtained from residents of the Brazilian Amazon with a high risk for P. vivax transmission. Malaria diagnosis was made by both microscopy and nested PCR. A total of 219 individuals were enrolled: non-infected volunteers (n=90) and individuals with vivax malaria: asymptomatic (n=60), mild (n=50) and severe infection (n =19). SOD-1 was directly associated with parasitaemia, plasma creatinine and alanine amino-transaminase levels, while TNF-alpha correlated only with the later enzyme. The predictive power of SOD-1 and TNF-alpha levels was compared. SOD-1 protein levels were more effective at predicting vivax malaria severity than TNF-alpha. For discrimination of mild infection, elevated SOD-1 levels showed greater sensitivity than TNF-alpha (76% vs. 30% respectively; p,0.0001), with higher specificity (100% vs. 97%; p<0.0001). In predicting severe vivax malaria, SOD-1 levels exhibited higher sensitivity than TNF-alpha (80% vs. 56%, respectively; p<0.0001; likelihood ratio: 7.45 vs. 3.14; p<0.0001). Neither SOD-1 nor TNF-alpha could discriminate P. vivax infections from those caused by P. falciparum. Conclusion: SOD-1 is a powerful predictor of disease severity in individuals with different clinical presentations of vivax malaria. © 2010 Andrade et al.
Andrade, B. B., Reis-Filho, A., Souza-Neto, S. M., Raffaele-Netto, I., Camargo, L. M. A., Barral, A., & Barral-Netto, M. (2010). Plasma superoxide dismutase-1 as a surrogate marker of vivax malaria severity. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 4(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0000650