The sickle cell trait affects contact dynamics and endothelial cell activation in Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes
Authors: Lansche C, Dasanna AK, Quadt K, Fröhlich B, Missirlis D, Tétard M, Gamain B, Buchholz B, Sanchez CP, Tanaka M, Schwarz US, Lanzer M
CellNetworks People: Lanzer Michael, Schwarz Ulrich, Tanaka Motomu
Journal: Commun Biol. 2018 Nov 30;1:211. doi: 10.1038/s42003-018-0223-3

Sickle cell trait, a common hereditary blood disorder, protects carriers from severe disease in infections with the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Protection is associated with a reduced capacity of parasitized erythrocytes to cytoadhere to the microvascular endothelium and cause vaso-occlusive events. However, the underpinning cellular and biomechanical processes are only partly understood and the impact on endothelial cell activation is unclear. Here, we show, by combining quantitative flow chamber experiments with multiscale computer simulations of deformable cells in hydrodynamic flow, that parasitized erythrocytes containing the sickle cell haemoglobin displayed altered adhesion dynamics, resulting in restricted contact footprints on the endothelium. Main determinants were cell shape, knob density and membrane bending. As a consequence, the extent of endothelial cell activation was decreased. Our findings provide a quantitative understanding of how the sickle cell trait affects the dynamic cytoadhesion behavior of parasitized erythrocytes and, in turn, endothelial cell activation.