Submicroscopic infections with Plasmodium falciparum during pregnancy and their association with circulating cytokine, chemokine, and cellular profiles

Samad A. Ibitokou, Stéphanie Boström, Laurent Brutus, Nicaise Tuikue Ndam, Bertin Vianou, Carine Agbowaï, Martin Amadoudji Zin, Bich Tram Huynh, Achille Massougbodji, Philippe Deloron, Marita Troye-Blomberg, Nadine Fievet, Adrian J.F. Luty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The immunological consequences of pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) due to Plasmodium falciparum have been extensively investigated in cross-sectional studies conducted at delivery, but there have been very few longitudinal studies of changes due to PAM during pregnancy. We conducted a prospective study in Benin to investigate the changes associated with PAM in groups of 131 and 111 women at inclusion in the second trimester and at delivery, respectively. Infected women were identified by standard microscopic examinations of blood smears and by quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays and were matched to uninfected control women by age, gestational age, and gravidity. We quantified plasma levels of a panel of soluble immunological mediators and other mediators, as well as the frequencies of peripheral blood mononuclear cell types. Comparisons of these variables in infected and uninfected women used multivariate analyses, and we also assessed the predictive value of variables measured at inclusion for pregnancy outcomes at delivery. In multivariate analyses, peripheral plasma interleukin 10 (IL-10) and gamma interferon-inducible protein 10 (IP-10) levels were associated with PAM at inclusion and at delivery, while higher IL-10 levels distinguished qPCR-detectable submicroscopic infections at inclusion but not at delivery. Maternal anemia at delivery was associated with markers of proinflammatory (increased frequency of monocytes) and anti-inflammatory (increased IL-10 levels and increased activation of regulatory T cells) activity measured at inclusion. Elevated concentrations of IL-10 are associated with the majority of P. falciparum infections during pregnancy, but this marker alone does not identify all submicroscopic infections. Reliably identifying such occult infections will require more sensitive and specific methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-866
Number of pages8
JournalClinical and Vaccine Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology (medical)


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