Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) parasites still cause lethal infections worldwide, especially in Africa (https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/world-malaria-report-2019). During P. falciparum blood-stage infections in humans, low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein and cholesterol levels in the blood become low. Because P. falciparum lacks a de novo cholesterol synthesis pathway, it must import cholesterol from the surrounding environment. However, the origin of the cholesterol and how it is taken up by the parasite across the multiple membranes that surround it is not fully understood.
For intracellular pathogens, the host cell provides needed protection and nutrients. A major challenge of intracellular parasite research is collection of high parasite numbers separated from host contamination. This situation is exemplified by the malaria parasite, which spends a substantial part of its life cycle inside erythrocytes as rings, trophozoites, and schizonts, before egress and reinvasion.