Plasmodium products persist in the bone marrow and promote chronic bone loss

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Science Immunology  02 Jun 2017:
Vol. 2, Issue 12, eaam8093
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aam8093

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Plasmodium leftovers cause bone loss

Individuals who recover from malarial infection may develop long-term consequences, such as bone loss and growth retardation. Lee et al. now report that Plasmodium by-products retained in the bone marrow lead directly to bone loss. Infection with a mutant Plasmodium that lacked the by-product hemozoin did not induce bone loss. Mechanistically, these products induced MyD88-dependent inflammatory responses in osteoclast and osteoblast precursors, resulting in bone resorption. Treating infected animals with alfacalcidol, a vitamin D3 analog, could prevent this bone loss, suggesting that combining bone therapies with antimalarial drugs may prevent bone loss in infected individuals.