C-reactive protein as a prognostic marker of <i>Plasmodiumfalciparum</i> malaria severity.

01 Apr 2019
Bhardwaj N, Ahmed MZ, Sharma S, Nayak A, Anvikar AR, Pande V

Background & objectives

Plasmodiumfalciparum malaria causes wide variety of clinical symptoms ranging from a mild febrile illness to life-threatening complications. For prevention of the severity and early diagnosis, evaluation of potential biomarkers is much needed. C-reactive protein (CRP) is an acute phase protein and well-recognized marker of inflammation in the body. It is synthesized by liver in response to pro-inflammatory responses and has correlation with complications associated with malaria. The study was aimed to assess, if it could serve as a predictive marker for malaria disease severity.


In the present study, 74 P. falciparum patients and 22 healthy controls were enrolled. Turbidimetric immunoassay was used to measure the CRP in serum samples of all the study participants. Mann-Whitney U-test for continuous data and chi-square test for categorical data were used to compare all malaria cases vs. healthy control group and uncomplicated vs. severe malaria groups. Using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, best threshold value was determined for CRP in severe malaria patients.


CRP level was significantly elevated in all malaria case groups (1.6 mg/dl IQ 1-2.6) as compared to healthy controls (0.10 mg/dl IQ 0.1-0.20), with p-value <0.0001. Further, CRP level was significantly higher in the severe malaria group (2 mg/dl IQ 1.8-3.9) as compared to the uncomplicated malaria group (1.4 mg/dl IQ 1-2.47) and healthy control group (0.10 mg/dl IQ 0.10-0.20), with p-value <0.05.

Interpretation & conclusion

The present study findings suggest that CRP level can be used to differentiate severe malaria from uncomplicated malaria. Elevated CRP level could be helpful in early prediction of the disease severity in patients infected with P. falciparum and may play an important role in diagnosis of falciparum malaria where improper initial test and clinical manifestations like fever may be absent even with a high load of parasite.