Amino acid derangements in adults with severe falciparum malaria.

29 Apr 2019
Leopold SJ, Apinan S, Ghose A, Kingston HW, Plewes KA, Hossain A, Dutta AK, Paul S, Barua A, Sattar A, Day NPJ, Tarning J, Winterberg M, White NJ, Dondorp AM


Amino acid derangements are common in severe falciparum malaria and have been associated with endothelial dysfunction (L-arginine), metabolic acidosis (alanine and lactate), and disease severity (phenylalanine and tryptophan metabolites). Whether these amino acid perturbations reflect isolated pathogenic mechanisms or if they are part of overall changes in amino acid metabolism is unclear. To investigate this, we prospectively simultaneously quantified a broad range of plasma free amino acids (PFAA) using HPLC-MRM-Mass spectrometry in relation to presenting symptoms in adults with severe malaria (n = 88), septicaemia (n = 88), uncomplicated malaria (n = 71), and healthy controls (n = 48) from Bangladesh. The total plasma concentration of measured amino acids was significantly reduced in each of the patient groups when compared to normal levels observed in healthy local controls: uncomplicated malaria -54%, severe malaria -23%, and sepsis -32%, (p = <0.001). Inspection of amino acid profiles revealed that in each group the majority of amino acids were below normal levels, except for phenylalanine. Among patients with severe malaria, L-lactate was strongly associated with an increase of the total amino acid concentration, likely because this reflects tissue hypoxia. Our data confirm previously described amino acid abnormalities, likely resulting from overall changes in the concentration of PFAA.