Disruption of blood-brain barrier (BBB) function is a key feature of cerebral malaria. Increased barrier permeability occurs due to disassembly of tight and adherens junctions between endothelial cells, yet the mechanisms governing junction disassembly and vascular permeability during cerebral malaria remain poorly characterized. We found that EphA2 is a principal receptor tyrosine kinase mediating BBB breakdown during Plasmodium infection.
Cerebral malaria is a lethal complication of malaria infection characterized by central nervous system dysfunction and is often not effectively treated by antimalarial combination therapies. It has been shown that the sequestration of the parasite-infected red blood cells that interact with cerebral vessel endothelial cells and the damage of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) play critical roles in the pathogenesis.