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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2007, Article ID 43785, 13 pages
Review Article

Molecular Aspects of Plasmodium falciparum Infection during Pregnancy

UR 010, Laboratoire de Parasitologie, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Université Paris Descartes, IFR 71, 4 avenue de l'Observatoire, Paris 75006, France

Received 29 December 2006; Accepted 21 March 2007

Academic Editor: Ali Ouaissi

Copyright © 2007 Nicaise Tuikue Ndam and Philippe Deloron. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cytoadherence of Plasmodium-falciparum-parasitized red blood cells (PRBCs) to host receptors is the key phenomenon in the pathological process of the malaria disease. Some of these interactions can originate poor outcomes responsible for 1 to 3 million annual deaths mostly occurring among children in sub-Saharan Africa. Pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) represents an important exception of the disease occurring at adulthood in malaria endemic settings. Consequences of this are shared between the mother (maternal anemia) and the baby (low birth weight and infant mortality). Demonstrating that parasites causing PAM express specific variant surface antigens (VSAPAM), including the P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) variant VAR2CSA, that are targets for protective immunity has strengthened the possibility for the development of PAM-specific vaccine. In this paper, we review the molecular basis of malaria pathogenesis attributable to the erythrocyte stages of the parasites, and findings supporting potential anti-PAM vaccine components evidenced in PAM.