Altered Subpopulations of Red Blood Cells and Post-treatment Anemia in Malaria.

05 Apr 2022
Chambrion C, Depond M, Angella L, Mouri O, Kendjo E, Fricot-Monsinjon A, Roussel C, Biligui S, Tantaoui I, Taieb A, Argy N, Houzé S, Piarroux R, Siriez JY, Jaureguiberry S, Larréché S, Théllier M, Cenac N, Buffet P, Ndour PA
In acute malaria, the bulk of erythrocyte loss occurs after therapy, with a nadir of hemoglobin generally observed 3-7 days after treatment. The fine mechanisms leading to this early post-treatment anemia are still elusive. We explored pathological changes in RBC subpopulations by quantifying biochemical and mechanical alterations during severe malaria treated with artemisinin derivatives, a drug family that induce "pitting" in the spleen. In this study, the hemoglobin concentration dropped by 1.93 G/dl during therapy. During the same period, iRBC accounting for 6.12% of all RBC before therapy (BT) were replaced by pitted-RBC, accounting for 5.33% of RBC after therapy (AT). RBC loss was thus of 15.9%, of which only a minor part was due to the loss of iRBC or pitted-RBC. When comparing RBC BT and AT to normal controls, lipidomics revealed an increase in the cholesterol/phosphatidylethanolamine ratio (0.17 versus 0.24, p < 0.001) and cholesterol/phosphatidylinositol ratio (0.36 versus 0.67, p = 0.001). Using ektacytometry, we observed a reduced deformability of circulating RBC, similar BT and AT, compared to health control donors. The mean Elongation Index at 1.69Pa was 0.24 BT and 0.23 AT vs. 0.28 in controls (p < 0.0001). At 30Pa EI was 0.56 BT and 0.56 AT vs. 0.60 in controls (p < 0.001). The retention rate (rr) of RBC subpopulations in spleen-mimetic microsphere layers was higher for iRBC (rr = 20% p = 0.0033) and pitted-RBC (rr = 19%, p = 0.0031) than for healthy RBC (0.12%). Somewhat surprisingly, the post-treatment anemia in malaria results from the elimination of RBC that were never infected.