Journal Information
Vol. 40. Issue. 5.September - October 2020
Pages 491-578
Vol. 40. Issue. 5.September - October 2020
Pages 491-578
Letter to the Editor
Open Access
Persistent acute renal failure in a patient infected with Plasmodium malariae: the importance of renal biopsy
Fracaso renal agudo anúrico persistente en paciente infectado con Plasmodium malariae: la importancia de la biopsia renal
Simona Alexandrua,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author.
, Alberto Ortiz Arduanb, Maria López Picassoa, Laura García-Puente Suareza, Saul Enrique Pampa Saícoa, Maria Soledad Pizarro Sáncheza, Pablo Cannata Ortizc, Raquel Barba Martind
a Servicio de Nefrologia, Hospital Universitario Rey Juan Carlos, Móstoles, Madrid, Spain
b Servicio de Nefrologia, Hospital Universitario Fundación Jiménez Díaz, Madrid, Spain
c Servicio de Anatomo Patologia, Hospital Universitario Fundación Jiménez Díaz, Madrid, Spain
d Servicio de Medicina Interna, Hospital Universitario Rey Juan Carlos, Móstoles, Madrid, Spain
Article information
Full Text
Download PDF
Figures (2)
Full Text
Dear Editor:

The pathogenesis of acute renal lesion in patients with malaria is not very well known, with endothelial damage and microvascular obstruction by the infected erythrocyte being suspected.1,2

Acute renal failure is quite common, and transient treatment with haemodialysis may be necessary. Generally speaking, no renal biopsy is performed and a mean recovery of 17 days is assumed.3 In some cases in which an anatomopathological study was available, minimal-change disease4 or collapsing focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis were diagnosed.5–8

We present the case of a 43-year-old male, diagnosed in February 2018 in an African country with Plasmodium falciparum infection and treated with artemisinin and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. He subsequently developed acute renal failure requiring replacement therapy with haemodialysis. More than one month after the diagnosis, and after agreeing to a renal biopsy due to the persistence of anuria and dependence on dialysis, the biopsy showed a collapsing focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis and an acute immunoallergic tubulointerstitial nephritis, with large intratubular crystals very specific to trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Fig. 1). Treatment was initiated with three daily doses of 250 mg of intravenous methylprednisolone, followed by oral prednisone (1 mg/g/day), allowing the patient to recover and abandon the haemodialysis programme in a few days. In subsequent examinations, renal function improved progressively to an MDRD-4 eGFR of 20 mL/min, albeit in combination with a nephrotic range proteinuria (between 18.3 and 6.8 g/24 h). After reviewing all the cases published until then, we proposed continuing the treatment with corticosteroids in a regimen similar to the one used in the treatment of a primary focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis. The maximum improvement obtained was MDRD-4 eGFR 28 mL/min with a slight fall in proteinuria (5, 6 g/day). The treatment with corticosteroids was gradually reduced until it was discontinued after six months, without full recovery of renal function being achieved (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1.

Renal biopsy. A) Glomerulus with collapsing pattern in paraffin-embedded tissue with processing artefact (methenamine silver, ×200). B) Sclerosis of the glomerular tuft and hyperplastic podocyte, already in the shape of a Coptic cross in frozen tissue (methenamine silver, ×200). C) Glomerulus with heart-shaped collapse in frozen tissue (trichrome, ×200). D) Acute tubular damage and calcium oxalate crystals in tubular epithelium (H&E, ×200).

Fig. 2.

Evolution of renal function and proteinuria in one year of follow-up.


Hitherto, four cases of collapsing focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis related to a Plasmodium falciparum infection have been published. Two of them improved, a 12-year-old boy who required 28 haemodialysis sessions, but not corticosteroids,5 and a 37-year-old man who was given corticosteroids for six months, in addition to acute haemodialysis.6 The other two cases, a 72-year-old man7 and a 62-year-old woman8 required treatment with chronic haemodialysis. Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole is used for its antibacterial and antimalarial activity, as well as to avoid a potential artemisinin resistance, although in our case it was deemed responsible for an immunoallergic tubulointerstitial nephritis. The corticosteroid treatment produced a certain improvement and allowed the patient to leave the haemodialysis programme. Although the corticosteroid treatment was prolonged for several months, we did not obtain significant results. The patient is currently being followed up in the outpatient department, with an MDRD-4 eGFR of around 17 mL/min.

With this case, we emphasise the need to consider a diagnostic renal biopsy in patients with malaria and acute renal failure.

B. Cooke, R. Coppel, M. Wahlgren.
Falciparum malaria: sticking up, standing out and out-standing.
Parasitol Today., 16 (2000), pp. 416-420
T.W. Yeo, D.A. Lampah, E. Tjitra, R. Gitawati, E. Kenangalem, K. Piera, et al.
Relationship of cell-free hemoglobin to impaired endothelial nitric oxide bioavailability and perfusion in severe falciparum malaria.
J Infect Dis., 200 (2009), pp. 1522-1529
T.T. Trang, N.H. Phu, H. Vinh, T.T. Hien, B.M. Cuonq, T.T. Chau, et al.
Acute renal failure in patients with severe falciparum malaria.
Clin Infect Dis., 15 (1992), pp. 874-880
N. Rangwani, S. Facaros, J. Wang, S. Agarwal, P. Shah, R. Raina.
Minimal change disease and malaria.
Clin Kidney J., 12 (2018), pp. 245-247
V.B. Kute, H.L. Trivedi, A.V. Vanikar.
Collapsing glomerulopathy and hemolytic uremic syndrome associated with falciparum malaria: completely reversible acute kidney injury.
J Parasit Dis., 37 (2013), pp. 286-290
A. Niang, S.E. Niang, H.F. Kael, M.M. Ka, B. Diouf.
Collapsing glomerulopathy and hemophagocytic syndrome related to malaria: a case report.
Nephrol Dial Transplant., 23 (2008), pp. 3359-3361
N. Sehar, E. Gobran, S. Elsayegh.
Collapsing focal segmental glomerulosclerosis in a patient with acute malaria.
Case Rep Med., 2015 (2015), pp. 420459
M.E. Van Wolfswinkel, P.J. van Genderen, N.N. Goemaere, A.M. van Alphen.
Collapsing glomerulopathy after Plasmodium infection.
Clin Kidney J., 7 (2014), pp. 495-496

Please cite this article as: Alexandru S, Arduan AO, Picasso ML, Suarez LG-P, Saíco SEP, Sánchez MSP, et al. Fracaso renal agudo anúrico persistente en paciente infectado con Plasmodium malariae: la importancia de la biopsia renal. Nefrologia. 2020;40:571–573.

Copyright © 2020. Sociedad Española de Nefrología
Nefrología (English Edition)

Subscribe to our newsletter

Article options
es en

¿Es usted profesional sanitario apto para prescribir o dispensar medicamentos?

Are you a health professional able to prescribe or dispense drugs?