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Research Abstracts Online
January 2009 - March 2010

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Medical School
Department of Pediatrics

PI: Chandy C. John

Pathogenesis of Cognitive Deficits in Central Nervous System Malaria

The central hypothesis of this study is that specific immunologic/inflammatory and genetic factors lead to cognitive and neurologic deficits in a subset of children with cerebral malaria (CM). The project’s specific aims are to: (1) establish the areas, frequency and severity of cognitive and neurologic function affected by cerebral malaria in children of different ages (18 months-4 years, 5-12 years) and (2) identify the immunologic/inflammatory and genetic factors associated with cognitive and neurologic deficits in children with cerebral malaria.

To accomplish goal (1), the researchers compare areas, frequency, and age-adjusted levels of cognitive and neurologic deficits in children with CM in two age groups (18 mo-4 years, 5-12 years) to healthy children and children with severe malarial anemia in these age groups, at discharge and in follow-up. Cognitive function in the areas of attention, reasoning, memory, motor function, and language are assessed. To accomplish goal (2), the researchers assess specific risk factors and assess gene expression by microarray analysis between the three groups.

This study should constitute a major advance in the knowledge of CM pathogenesis and long-term outcomes, and will lead to clinical trials of interventions to prevent cognitive and neurologic sequelae in children with CM. The researchers also expect this study will provide insights and hypothesis generating information for researchers involved in investigating the many other types of non-traumatic brain injury and recovery in the developed and developing world.

Group Members

Gregory Park, Research Associate
Jennifer Koziol Wozniak, Graduate Student