Probing the Cytoadherence of Malaria Infected Red Blood Cells under Flow

Malaria is one of the most widespread and deadly human parasitic diseases caused by the Plasmodium (P.) species with the P.falciparum being the most deadly. The parasites are capable of invading red blood cells (RBCs) during infection. At the late stage of parasites development, the parasites export proteins to the infected RBCs (iRBC) membrane and bind to receptors of surface proteins on the endothelial cells that line microvasculature walls. Resulting adhesion of iRBCs to microvasculature is one of the main sources of most complications during malaria infection. Therefore, it is important to develop a versatile and simple experimental method to quantitatively investigate iRBCs cytoadhesion and binding kinetics. Here, we developed an advanced flow based adhesion assay to demonstrate that iRBCs adhesion to endothelial CD36 receptor protein coated channels is a bistable process possessing a hysteresis loop. This finding confirms a recently developed model of cell adhesion which we used to fit our experimental data. We measured the contact area of iRBC under shear flow at different stages of infection using Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF), and also adhesion receptor and ligand binding kinetics using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). With these parameters, we reproduced in our model the experimentally observed changes in adhesion properties of iRBCs accompanying parasite maturation and investigated the main mechanisms responsible for these changes, which are the contact area during the shear flow as well as the rupture area size.

Xu, Xiaofeng, Artem K. Efremov, Ang Li, Lipeng Lai, Ming Dao, Chwee Teck Lim, Jianshu Cao






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