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Chronic infection during placental malaria is associated with up-regulation of cycloxygenase-2

Demba Sarr1, Delphine Aldebert1, Laurence Marrama1, Emilie Frealle1, Alioune Gaye2, Hamoud O Brahim1, Makhtar Niang1, Jean Marie Dangou1, Odile Mercereau-Puijalon3, Jean Yves Lehesran4 and Ronan Jambou15*

Author Affiliations

1 Institut Pasteur de Dakar PoBox 220 Dakar, Senegal

2 Centre de Santé Roi Baudoin, Guediawaye, Dakar, Senegal

3 Institut Pasteur, CNRS URA 2581, Paris, France

4 UR10, Mother & Child Unit, IRD PoBox 1386 Dakar, Senegal

5 Département de Parasitologie-Mycologie, Institut Pasteur, Institut Pasteur, 28 rue Dr Roux, 75015 Paris, France

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Malaria Journal 2010, 9:45  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-45

Published: 9 February 2010



Placental malaria (PM) is associated with poor foetal development, but the pathophysiological processes involved are poorly understood. Cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX) which convert fatty acids to prostaglandins and leukotrienes, play important roles in pregnancy and foetal development. COX-2, currently targeted by specific drugs, plays a dual role as it associates with both pre-eclampsia pathology and recovery during infection. The role of COX during PM was questioned by quantifying at delivery COX-1, COX-2, 15-LOX, and IL-10 expression in two groups of malaria infected and uninfected placenta.


Placental biopsies were collected at delivery for mRNA isolation and quantification, using real time PCR.


COX-2 and IL-10 mRNAs increased mainly during chronic infections (nine- and five-times, respectively), whereas COX-1 transcripts remained constant. COX-2 over-expression was associated with a higher birth weight of the baby, but with a lower rate of haemoglobin of the mother. It was associated with a macrophage infiltration of the placenta and with a low haemozoin infiltration. In the opposite way, placental infection was associated with lower expression of 15-LOX mRNA. A high degree of haemozoin deposition correlates with low birth weight and decreased expression of COX-2.


These data provide evidence that COX-2 and IL-10 are highly induced during chronic infection of the placenta, but were not associated with preterm delivery or low birth weight. The data support the involvement of COX-2 in the recovery phase of the placental infection.