Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The malaria parasite life cycle includes asexual replication in human blood, with a proportion of parasites differentiating to gametocytes required for transmission to mosquitoes. Commitment to differentiate into gametocytes, which is marked by activation of the parasite transcription factor ap2-g, is known to be influenced by host factors but a comprehensive model remains uncertain. Here, we analyze data from 828 children in Kilifi, Kenya with severe, uncomplicated, and asymptomatic malaria infection over 18 years of falling malaria transmission. We examine markers of host immunity and metabolism, and markers of parasite growth and transmission investment. We find that inflammatory responses associated with reduced plasma lysophosphatidylcholine levels are associated with markers of increased investment in parasite sexual reproduction (i.e. transmission investment) and reduced growth (i.e. asexual replication). This association becomes stronger with falling transmission and suggests that parasites can rapidly respond to the within-host environment, which in turn is subject to changing transmission.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





adaptation, host parasite interaction, infectious disease, malaria, microbiology, plasmodium falciparum, transmission, Animals, Child, Humans, Plasmodium falciparum, Malaria, Reproduction, Adaptation, Physiological, Parasites, Malaria, Falciparum