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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 451735, 9 pages
Review Article

Syncytiotrophoblast Functions and Fetal Growth Restriction during Placental Malaria: Updates and Implication for Future Interventions

Department of Zoology, College of Natural and Applied Science, University of Dar es Salaam, P.O. Box 35064, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Received 23 June 2015; Revised 8 September 2015; Accepted 4 October 2015

Academic Editor: Louiza Belkacemi

Copyright © 2015 Winifrida B. Kidima. 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.


Syncytiotrophoblast lines the intervillous space of the placenta and plays important roles in fetus growth throughout gestation. However, perturbations at the maternal-fetal interface during placental malaria may possibly alter the physiological functions of syncytiotrophoblast and therefore growth and development of the embryo in utero. An understanding of the influence of placental malaria on syncytiotrophoblast function is paramount in developing novel interventions for the control of placental pathology associated with placental malaria. In this review, we discuss how malaria changes syncytiotrophoblast function as evidenced from human, animal, and in vitro studies and, further, how dysregulation of syncytiotrophoblast function may impact fetal growth in utero. We also formulate a hypothesis, stemming from epidemiological observations, that nutrition may override pathogenesis of placental malaria-associated-fetal growth restriction. We therefore recommend studies on nutrition-based-interventional approaches for high placental malaria-risk women in endemic areas. More investigations on the role of nutrition on placental malaria pathogenesis are needed.