Plasmodium parasites contain various virulence factors that modulate the host immune response. Malarial pigment, or hemozoin (Hz), is an undegradable crystalline product of the hemoglobin degradation pathway in the parasite and possesses immunomodulatory properties. An association has been found between Hz accumulation and severe malaria, suggesting that the effects of Hz on the host immune response may contribute to the development of malarial complications. Although the immunomodulatory roles of Hz have been widely investigated, many conflicting data exist, likely due to the variability between experimental set-ups and technical limitations of Hz generation and isolation methods. Here, we critically assess the potential immunomodulatory effects of Hz, its role in malarial complications, and its potential effects after parasite clearance.
- Host-Parasite Interactions/immunology