Hadjilaou A, Brandi J, Riehn M, Friese MA, Jacobs T.Malaria, the most prevalent mosquito-borne infectious disease worldwide, has accompanied humanity for millennia and remains an important public health issue despite advances in its prevention and treatment. Most infections are asymptomatic, but a small percentage of individuals with a heavy parasite burden develop severe malaria, a group of clinical syndromes attributable to organ dysfunction. Cerebral malaria is an infrequent but life-threatening complication of severe malaria that presents as an acute cerebrovascular encephalopathy characterized by unarousable coma. Despite effective antiparasite drug treatment, 20% of patients with cerebral malaria die from this disease, and many survivors of cerebral malaria have neurocognitive impairment. Thus, an important unmet clinical need is to rapidly identify people with malaria who are at risk of developing cerebral malaria and to develop preventive, adjunctive and neuroprotective treatments for cerebral malaria. This Review describes important advances in the understanding of cerebral malaria over the past two decades and discusses how these mechanistic insights could be translated into new therapies.
Nat Rev Neurol. 2023 Nov;19(11):688-709
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