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BACKGROUND: Hyperlactataemia is often associated with a poor outcome in severe malaria in African children. To unravel the complex pathophysiology of this condition the relationship between plasma lactate levels, parasite density, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, and haemozoin-containing leucocytes was studied in children with severe falciparum malarial anaemia. METHODS: Twenty-six children with a primary diagnosis of severe malarial anaemia with any asexual Plasmodium falciparum parasite density and Hb < 5 g/dL were studied and the association of plasma lactate levels and haemozoin-containing leucocytes, parasite density, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines was measured. The same associations were measured in non-severe malaria controls (N = 60). RESULTS: Parasite density was associated with lactate levels on admission (r = 0.56, P < 0.005). Moreover, haemozoin-containing neutrophils and IL-12 were strongly associated with plasma lactate levels, independently of parasite density (r = 0.60, P = 0.003 and r = -0.46, P = 0.02, respectively). These associations were not found in controls with uncomplicated malarial anaemia. CONCLUSION: These data suggest that blood stage parasites, haemozoin and low levels of IL-12 may be associated with the development of hyperlactataemia in severe malarial anaemia.

Original publication




Journal article


Malar J

Publication Date





Anemia, Child, Preschool, Female, Hemeproteins, Humans, Infant, Interleukin-12, Kenya, Lactic Acid, Malaria, Falciparum, Male, Neutrophils