Research Highlight

Proteomics cue to severe vivax malaria

doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.54 Published online 25 April 2016

Proteome profiling of severe vivax malaria patients has revealed that several proteins — such as superoxide dismutase, vitronectin, titin, apolipoprotein E, serum amyloid A, and haptoglobin — could be potential predictive markers of malaria severity1

Researchers from IIT Bombay say the profiling — the first such comprehensive clinicopathological analysis — provides evidence for modulation of many physiological pathways in severe vivax malaria. These pathways include oxidative stress, cytoskeletal regulation, lipid metabolism and complement cascades.

In spite of the substantial global burden of Plasmodium vivax infection and its economic impact, vivax malaria has been largely neglected. Mechanisms that trigger the transition from uncomplicated to fatal severe vivax malaria are largely obscure. Proteomics has remarkable potential to accelerate malaria research through identification of next generation biomarkers and therapeutic targets.

The researchers performed proteomics analysis of uncomplicated (non-severe) and complicated (severe) vivax malaria patients alongside healthy controls. They also analysed two other febrile infectious diseases from Maharashtra, Rajasthan and West Bengal regions of India. The comprehensive multi-disciplinary study identified some possible cues for severe Plasmodium vivax infection. 

The researchers demonstrated that an abundance of free-radical scavenging and anti-oxidative enzymes points to higher oxidative stress in severe malaria patients. Moreover, elevated serum levels of various muscle proteins indicate the possibility of muscle damage and microvasculature lesions in severe malaria. 

The findings will help better understand the pathogenesis of severe vivax malaria, and may facilitate clinical diagnosis of severe malaria-associated symptoms.


1. Ray, S. et al. Clinicopathological analysis and multipronged quantitative proteomics reveal oxidative stress and cytoskeletal proteins as possible markers for severe vivax malaria. Sci. Rep. 6 (2016) doi: 10.1038/srep24557