Improving cognitive outcome in cerebral malaria: Insights from clinical and experimental research

Aline Silva de Miranda, Fátima Brant, Fabiana Simão Machado, Milene Alvarenga Rachid, Antônio Lú Teixeira

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Cerebral Malaria (CM) is a clinical syndrome defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a potentially reversible diffuse encephalopathy characterized mainly by coma and the presence of asexual forms of Plasmodium falciparum parasites in peripheral blood smears in the absence of other causes of encephalopathy. A wide range of clinical manifestations follows the disease including cognitive, behavioral and motor dysfunctions, seizures and coma. The underlying mechanisms of CM pathogenesis remain incompletely understood although vascular, immunological and metabolic changes have been described. The classical treatment of CM is based on the administration of antimalarial drugs, especially chloroquine and artemisinin derivates as artesunate. Even with treatment, 15 to 20% of children with CM die and approximately 10 to 17% of those who survive remain with significant long-term cognitive impairment. In this context, neuroprotective and adjuvant therapies have been recently investigated in clinical and experimental studies of CM in an attempt to improve cognitive outcome. A poor understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms, properties of compounds used and patient selection have contributed to the lack of success of these interventions. This review discusses clinical aspects of cognitive sequelae, possible mechanisms involved in the brain injury, perspectives and limitations regarding the pharmacological strategies to improve cognitive outcome in CM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-295
Number of pages11
JournalCentral Nervous System Agents in Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adjuvant therapies
  • Cerebral malaria
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Malaria
  • Neuroprotective interventions
  • Pharmacological strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Molecular Medicine


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