Placental malaria (PM) is associated with poor foetal development, but the pathophysiological processes involved are poorly understood. Cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX) which convert fatty acids to prostaglandins and leukotrienes, play important roles in pregnancy and foetal development. COX-2, currently targeted by specific drugs, plays a dual role as it associates with both pre-eclampsia pathology and recovery during infection. The role of COX during PM was questioned by quantifying at delivery COX-1, COX-2, 15-LOX, and IL-10 expression in two groups of malaria infected and uninfected placenta.
Placental biopsies were collected at delivery for mRNA isolation and quantification, using real time PCR.
COX-2 and IL-10 mRNAs increased mainly during chronic infections (nine- and five-times, respectively), whereas COX-1 transcripts remained constant. COX-2 over-expression was associated with a higher birth weight of the baby, but with a lower rate of haemoglobin of the mother. It was associated with a macrophage infiltration of the placenta and with a low haemozoin infiltration. In the opposite way, placental infection was associated with lower expression of 15-LOX mRNA. A high degree of haemozoin deposition correlates with low birth weight and decreased expression of COX-2.
These data provide evidence that COX-2 and IL-10 are highly induced during chronic infection of the placenta, but were not associated with preterm delivery or low birth weight. The data support the involvement of COX-2 in the recovery phase of the placental infection.||