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Effects of chloroquine treatment on circulating erythropoietin and inflammatory cytokines in acute Plasmodium falciparum malaria

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Anemia is a common and serious complication of malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum infection, a major health problem in tropical areas. Herein, the relation was investigated between the levels of circulating erythropoietin (EPO) and immunomodulatory cytokines in response to chloroquine treatment. Thirty-seven healthy control subjects and 40 patients with acute P. falciparum infection were included in the study. All subjects were adult male Sudanese. Blood samples were collected before chloroquine administration (25 mg/kg body weight, orally on three consecutive days) and 3 and 30 days after start of the therapy. Measurements included routine hematological parameters and the concentrations of immunoreactive EPO, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin 1α (IL-1), IL-6, and interferon γ (INF-γ). Chloroquine treatment led to a decrease in EPO levels in the control subjects but an increase in malaria patients at day 30. The latter was likely due to the anti-inflammatory action of the drug because INF-γ, IL-1, and IL-6 concentrations declined on chloroquine treatment. Based on these findings, we propose that an impaired EPO production in association with a prolonged elevation of certain inflammatory cytokines can contribute to the anemia in some malaria patients which can be reversed by chloroquine therapy.

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Supported by DAAD, grant No. A/99/04652.

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Correspondence to Wolfgang Jelkmann.

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Ballal, A., Saeed, A., Rouina, P. et al. Effects of chloroquine treatment on circulating erythropoietin and inflammatory cytokines in acute Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Ann Hematol 88, 411–415 (2009).

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