Malaria Infection Could Cause Chronic Bone Loss, Scientists Found Out

By N. Gutierrez | Jun 04, 2017 02:14 AM EDT

Many people know that malaria is an infection that affects and kills millions a year but some aren’t aware of its effects. Researchers from Japan were then reported to discover another side effect of being inflicted with the disease, which is bone loss.

According to Science Daily, malaria is a disease caused by Plasmodium parasites that infect almost million people annually. Aside from being an infectious and life-threatening infection, it is also said to cause 200 million new infections. The people infected with malaria was identified then to develop cerebral malaria, respiratory distress, and severe anemia.

With that said, researchers from the Laboratory of Malaria Immunology Team at the Immunology Frontier Research Center (IFReC) and Osaka University discovered that malaria infection could also cause the bone marrow to weaken. The team then used mouse malaria models in order to discover hidden pathogens before and after being infected with malaria.

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The mice models were then injected with mutant Plasmodium parasite. "Even after a one-time malaria infection (it does not matter if the disease is completely cured or chronic low-level infection continues), substantial chronic bone loss occurs,” Dr. Coban, corresponding author of the study stated.

“We found that Plasmodium products continuously accumulate in the bone marrow niche which turns the bone noticeably black in color, and results in it being "eaten up" by bone-resorbing cells known as osteoclasts, eventually disrupting bone homeostasis," Michelle Lee, a Ph.D., and co-author of the study explained. Both Coban and Lee then concluded that they have discovered bone loss in mice infected with both the two types the parasite.

The mice’s osteoclasts and osteoblasts, which dissolves and build up their bones were identified to be shut down when infected with malaria. The result was said to have the mice’s thigh bones to be 10% shorter than those of their uninfected counterparts. The study was published in the journal Science Immunology as reported by Science Magazine.

Nonetheless, the study showed that there are still ways to reverse the effects of malaria infection in bone loss. Supplements like alfacalcidol, a vitamin D3 analog and Anti-malarial coupled with bone therapy was then advised to prevent bone loss and improve bone health in malaria-infected patients.

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