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Preferential invasion by Plasmodium merozoites and the self-regulation of parasite burden


, : Preferential invasion by Plasmodium merozoites and the self-regulation of parasite burden. Plos One 8(2): E57434-E57434

The preferential invasion of particular red blood cell (RBC) age classes may offer a mechanism by which certain species of Plasmodia regulate their population growth. Asexual reproduction of the parasite within RBCs exponentially increases the number of circulating parasites; limiting this explosion in parasite density may be key to providing sufficient time for the parasite to reproduce, and for the host to develop a specific immune response. It is critical that the role of preferential invasion in infection is properly understood to model the within-host dynamics of different Plasmodia species. We develop a simulation model to show that limiting the range of RBC age classes available for invasion is a credible mechanism for restricting parasite density, one which is equally as important as the maximum parasite replication rate and the duration of the erythrocytic cycle. Different species of Plasmodia that regularly infect humans exhibit different preferences for RBC invasion, with all species except P. falciparum appearing to exhibit a combination of characteristics which are able to self-regulate parasite density.

US$19.90

PMID: 23460855

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057434


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