Discovery of metabolic alterations in the serum of patients infected with Plasmodium spp. by high-resolution metabolomics

Jinhyuk Na, Adnan Khan, Jae Kwan Kim, Abdul Wadood, Young Lan Choe, Douglas I. Walker, Dean P. Jones, Chae Seung Lim, Youngja Hwang Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Introduction: Despite the advances in diagnosis and treatment, malaria has still not been eradicated. Metabolic interactions between the host and Plasmodium may present novel targets for malaria control, but such interactions are yet to be deciphered. An exploration of metabolic interactions between humans and two Plasmodium species by high-resolution metabolomics may provide fundamental insights that can aid the development of a new strategy for the control of malaria. Objectives: This study aimed at exploring the metabolic changes in the sera of patients infected with Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. Methods: Uni- and multivariate metabolomic analyses were performed on the sera of four groups of patients, namely normal control (N, n = 100), P. falciparum-infected patients (PF, n = 21), P. vivax-infected patients (PV, n = 74), and non-malarial pyretic patients (Pyr, n = 25). Results: Univariate and multivariate analyses of N, PF, and PV groups showed differential metabolic phenotypes and subsequent comparisons in pairs revealed significant features. Pathway enrichment test with significant features showed the affected pathways, namely glycolysis/gluconeogenesis for PF and retinol metabolism for PV. The metabolites belonging to the affected pathways included significantly low 2,3-diphosphoglycerate and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate in the sera of PF. The sera of PV had significantly low levels of retinol but high levels of retinoic acid. Conclusion: Our study reveals metabolic alterations induced by Plasmodium spp. in human serum and would serve as a milestone in the development of novel anti-malarial strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarker
  • LC–MS
  • Malaria
  • Metabolomics
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Plasmodium vivax


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