In which the brain swells and bleeds, is a severe and often fatal complication of infection with malaria-causing Plasmodium parasites. Between 15 and 30 percent of sufferers who develop cerebral malaria will die from this condition, while a further 10 percent will experience long-term neurological problems. But what triggers this cerebral disease in some malaria victims is unclear. To gain insights into the condition, researchers have now examined the brains of mice with Plasmodium-induced cerebral malaria. They discovered that parasite-targeted immune cells called T cells (green) accumulate along the blood vessel walls of the animal’s brains (red), where fragments of the parasite are present. Such heightened immune activity prompts leakage from the vessels and subsequent brain cell death. Encouragingly, however, the researchers also found that injecting the mice with antibodies that prevent T cell accumulation gave the animals a better chance of survival. Written by Ruth Williams The image was generated in Dr. McGavern’s laboratory at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke by Dr. Phillip Swanson II National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA Image copyright held by original authors Research published in PLOS Pathogens, December 2016 Image copyright held by the photographer You can also follow BPoD on Twitter and Facebook

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