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13 March 2023 : Case report  USA

[In Press] Plasmodium falciparum-Induced Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia in a Pregnant Patient with Sickle Cell Disease

Unusual clinical course

Karishma Vijay Rupani12ABCDEF, Julian Waksal2ABCDEF, Lawrence Cytryn2ABCDEF, Leonard Naymagon2ABCDEF

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.938854

Am J Case Rep In Press; DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.938854  

Available online: 2023-03-13, In Press, Corrected Proof

Publication in the "In-Press" formula aims at speeding up the public availability of the pending manuscript while waiting for the final publication. The assigned DOI number is active and citable. The availability of the article in the Medline, PubMed and PMC databases as well as Web of Science will be obtained after the final publication according to the journal schedule


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an autosomal recessive hereditary condition characterized by chronic hemolytic anemia and painful vaso-occlusive episodes. Homozygous sickle cell patients are at increased risk of morbidity and mortality from malaria. Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) secondary to, or in the setting of, malarial infection is rare. In our case, the concurrence of Plasmodium falciparum malarial parasitemia and AIHA led to severe hemolytic anemia with an extensive packed red blood cell transfusion requirement. The patient’s underlying SCD also contributed to the severity of the anemia and persistence of the malarial infection.
We report the case of a 29-year-old woman in the second trimester of pregnancy, with a history of SCD, who presented with severe anemia beyond her typical baseline in the setting of P. falciparum malaria. Hemolysis markers, including lactate dehydrogenase and bilirubin, were elevated. Direct Coombs testing was positive for IgG and C3 antibodies. Treatment with antimalarial agents and steroids led to clinical improvement and eventual clearance of the parasitemia.
Our patient’s clinical course was most compatible with P. falciparum malaria-induced AIHA. Although she received a short course of steroids, it was treatment and clearance of the parasitemia that led to resolution of the hemolysis and a return to baseline hemoglobin levels. While the exact mechanism of AIHA in malaria is not well characterized, several unique mechanisms have been proposed and should be considered in cases of P. falciparum malaria manifesting with particularly severe hemolytic anemia.

Keywords: Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune; Anemia, Sickle Cell; Malaria


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American Journal of Case Reports eISSN: 1941-5923
American Journal of Case Reports eISSN: 1941-5923