METHODS: In patients with severe vivax malaria (n = 9), patients with nonsevere vivax malaria (n = 58), and healthy controls (n = 79), we measured NO-dependent endothelial function by using reactive hyperemia-peripheral arterial tonometry (RH-PAT) and assessed associations with arginine, asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), and hemolysis.
RESULTS: The L-arginine level and the L-arginine to ADMA ratio (a measure of L-arginine bioavailability) were reduced in patients with severe vivax malaria and those with nonsevere vivax malaria, compared with healthy controls (median L-arginine level, 65, 66, and 98 µmol/mL, respectively [P = .0001]; median L-arginine to ADMA ratio, 115, 125, and 187, respectively [P = .0001]). Endothelial function was impaired in proportion to disease severity (median RH-PAT index, 1.49, 1.73, and 1.97 in patients with severe vivax malaria, those with nonsevere vivax malaria, and healthy controls, respectively; P = .018) and was associated with the L-arginine to ADMA ratio. While the posttreatment fall in hemoglobin level was greater in severe vivax malaria as compared to nonsevere vivax malaria (2.5 vs 1 g/dL; P = .0001), markers of intravascular hemolysis were not higher in severe disease.
CONCLUSIONS: Endothelial function is impaired in nonsevere and severe vivax malaria, is associated with reduced L-arginine bioavailability, and may contribute to microvascular pathogenesis. Severe disease appears to be more associated with extravascular hemolysis than with intravascular hemolysis.