Host control of malaria infections: Constraints on immune and erythropoeitic response kinetics

  • McQueen P
  • McKenzie F
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The two main agents of human malaria, Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum, can induce severe anemia and provoke strong, complex immune reactions. Which dynamical behaviors of host immune and erythropoietic responses would foster control of infection, and which would lead to runaway parasitemia and/or severe anemia? To answer these questions, we developed differential equation models of interacting parasite and red blood cell (RBC) populations modulated by host immune and erythropoietic responses. The model immune responses incorporate both a rapidly responding innate component and a slower-responding, long-term antibody component, with several parasite developmental stages considered as targets for each type of immune response. We found that simulated infections with the highest parasitemia tended to be those with ineffective innate immunity even if antibodies were present. We also compared infections with dyserythropoiesis (reduced RBC production during infection) to those with compensatory erythropoiesis (boosted RBC production) or a fixed basal RBC production rate. Dyserythropoiesis tended to reduce parasitemia slightly but at a cost to the host of aggravating anemia. On the other hand, compensatory erythropoiesis tended to reduce the severity of anemia but with enhanced parasitemia if the innate response was ineffective. For both parasite species, sharp transitions between the schizont and the merozoite stages of development (i.e., with standard deviation in intra-RBC development time

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  • Philip G. McQueen

  • F. Ellis McKenzie

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