Association of plasma tau with mortality and long-term neurocognitive impairment in survivors of pediatric cerebral malaria and severe malarial anemia
Paediatrics and Child Health (East Africa)
Importance: Cerebral malaria (CM) and severe malarial anemia (SMA) are associated with persistent neurocognitive impairment (NCI) among children in Africa. Identifying blood biomarkers of acute brain injury that are associated with future NCI could allow early interventions to prevent or reduce NCI in survivors of severe malaria.
Objective: To investigate whether acutely elevated tau levels are associated with future NCI in children after CM or SMA. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS This prospective cohort study was conducted at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, from March 2008 to October 2015. Children aged 1.5 to 12 years with CM (n = 182) or SMA (n = 162) as well as community children (CC; n = 123) were enrolled in the study. Data analysis was conducted from January 2020 to May 2021. EXPOSURE CM or SMA. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Enrollment plasma tau levels were measured using singlemolecule array detection technology. Overall cognition (primary) and attention and memory (secondary) z scores were measured at 1 week and 6, 12, and 24 months after discharge using tools validated in Ugandan children younger than 5 years or 5 years and older. RESULTS A total of 467 children were enrolled. In the CM group, 75 (41%) were girls, and the mean (SD) age was 4.02 (1.92) years. In the SMA group, 59 (36%) were girls, and the mean (SD) age was 3.45 (1.60) years. In the CC group, 65 (53%) were girls, and the mean (SD) age was 3.94 (1.92) years. Elevated plasma tau levels (>95th percentile in CC group; >6.43 pg/mL) were observed in 100 children (55%) with CM and 69 children (43%) with SMA (P < .001). In children with CM who were younger than 5 years, elevated plasma tau levels were associated with increased mortality (odds ratio [OR], 3.06; 95% CI, 1.01-9.26; P = .048). In children with CM who were younger than 5 years at both CM episode and follow-up neurocognitive testing, plasma tau levels (log10 transformed) were associated with worse overall cognition scores over 24-month follow-up (β = −0.80; 95% CI, −1.32 to −0.27; P = .003). In children with CM who were younger than 5 years at CM episode and 5 years or older at follow-up neurocognitive testing, plasma tau was associated with worse scores in attention (β = −1.08; 95% CI, −1.79 to −0.38; P = .003) and working memory (β = −1.39; 95% CI, −2.18 to −0.60; P = .001).
Conclusion: this study, plasma tau, a marker of injury to neuronal axons, was elevated in children with CM or SMA and was associated with mortality and persistent NCI in children with CM younger than 5 years
Publication ( Name of Journal)
American Medical Association
(2021). Association of plasma tau with mortality and long-term neurocognitive impairment in survivors of pediatric cerebral malaria and severe malarial anemia. American Medical Association, 4(12).
Available at: https://ecommons.aku.edu/eastafrica_fhs_mc_paediatr_child_health/265
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