Background Serum lipid profile changes have been observed during malaria infection. The underlying biological mechanisms remain unclear. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview on those serum lipid profile changes, and to discuss possible underlying biological mechanisms and the role of lipids in malaria pathogenesis. Methods A systematic review and meta-analysis to determine lipid profile changes during malaria was conducted, following PRISMA guidelines. Without language restrictions, Medline/PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, LILACS, Biosis Previews and the African Index Medicus were searched for studies published up to 11 July, 2013, that measured serum lipid parameters in malaria patients. Also, major trial registries were searched. Mean differences in lipid profile parameters were combined in fixed and random effects meta-analysis, with a separate analysis for different groups of controls (healthy, other febrile illnesses or very low parasitaemia). These parameters were also compared between severe malaria and uncomplicated malaria. Funnel plots were used to test for publication bias. Results Of 2,518 studies reviewed, 42 met the criteria for inclusion in the qualitative analysis, and of these, 15 reported the necessary data for inclusion in the meta-analysis for cholesterol; nine for high-density lipoprotein (HDL), eight for low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and nine for triglycerides, respectively. Total cholesterol, HDL and LDL concentrations were lower in malaria and other febrile diseases compared to healthy controls. The decline was more pronounced and statistically significant during malaria compared to other febrile diseases. These results were consistent across included studies. Triglycerides were raised compared to healthy controls, but not statistically significant when compared to symptomatic controls. Conclusions This meta-analysis suggests that the observed lipid profile changes are characteristic for malaria. Although a definite link with the pathogenesis of malaria cannot yet be demonstrated, plausible hypotheses of biological mechanisms involving host lipid alterations and the pathogenesis of malaria exist. An increased research effort to elucidate the precise pathways is warranted, since this could lead to better understanding of malaria pathophysiology and consequently to novel treatment approaches.
Background Artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) is recommended as first-line treatment for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, whereas chloroquine is still commonly used for the treatment of non-falciparum species (Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium malariae). A more simplified, more uniform treatment approach across all malaria species is worthwhile to be considered both in endemic areas and for malaria as an imported condition alike. Methods A PROSPERO-registered systematic review to determine the efficacy and safety of ACT for the treatment of non-falciparum malaria was conducted, following PRISMA guidelines. Without language restrictions, Medline/PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, LILACS, Biosis Previews and the African Index Medicus were searched for studies published up to November 2014. Results The literature search identified 986 reports; 40 publications were found eligible for inclusion, all of them on non-falciparum malaria in endemic areas. Most evidence was available for P. vivax (n?=?35). Five clinical trials in total were identified evaluating ACT for P. ovale, P. malariae and Plasmodium knowlesi. Most ACT presentations have high efficacy against P. vivax parasites; artemisinin-based combinations have shorter parasite and fever clearance times compared to chloroquine. ACT is as effective as chloroquine in preventing recurrent parasitaemia before day 28. Artemisinin-based combinations with long half-lives show significantly fewer recurrent parasitaemia up to day 63. The limited evidence available supports both the use of chloroquine and an ACT for P. ovale and P. malariae. ACT seems to be preferable for optimal treatment of P. knowlesi. Conclusion ACT is at least equivalent to chloroquine in effectively treating non-falciparum malaria. These findings may facilitate development of simplified protocols for treating all forms of malaria with ACT, including returning travellers. Obtaining comprehensive efficacy and safety data on ACT use for non-falciparum species particularly for P. ovale, P. malariae and P. knowlesi should be a research priority. Trial registration CRD42014009103