Study of serum cortisol levels in complicated and uncomplicated Plasmodium vivax malaria patients

Sandeep B. R., M. G. Bhutto, Suresh Babu K. P.


Background: Malaria results in pathological changes in various body organs, as the parasite invade and multiply in circulating red blood cells. Despite of advances in diagnostic and treatment modalities, worldwide incidences of malaria are significant. Current study was conducted to investigate serum cortisol level changes as a promising biomarker for risk prediction in malaria and to study adrenal insufficiency in malaria patients.

Methods: Current investigation was a prospective observational study, conducted on complicated and uncomplicated Plasmodium vivax malaria patients. Serum cortisol levels in patients were investigated through immunoassay using direct chemiluminescent technology and were statistically correlated with Plasmodium vivax malaria infection.

Results: Results of present investigation revealed that on day 1 there was significant difference in mean serum cortisol levels between the Plasmodium vivax malaria patients and control group and cortisol levels were significantly higher in complicated Plasmodium vivax malaria patients compared to uncomplicated cases on day 1 and 7. Cortisol levels were observed to be normal on day 1 and 7 in uncomplicated malaria cases and in patients with bleeding manifestations, renal failure and jaundice. In 10 out of 15 cases of cerebral malaria, significant increase in serum cortisol levels were observed on day 1, while on day 7 levels were normal in all 15 cases.

Conclusions: Rise in serum cortisol level had a positive correlation with temperature and thus can be useful to predict the severity of disease in Plasmodium vivax malaria patients. No cortisol insufficiency was observed in during active and convalescent stages of illness.


Malaria, Parasitic infection, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium falciparum, Serum cortisol

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