Elevated Cerebrospinal Fluid Tau Protein Concentrations on Admission Are Associated with Long-term Neurologic and Cognitive Impairment in Ugandan Children with Cerebral Malaria

Dibyadyuti Datta, Andrea L. Conroy, Peter F. Castelluccio, John M. Ssenkusu, Gregory S. Park, Robert O Opoka, Paul Bangirana, Richard Idro, Andrew J. Saykin, Chandy John

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Elevated concentrations of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau, a marker of axonal injury, have been associated with coma in severe malaria (cerebral malaria [CM]). However, it is unknown whether axonal injury is related to long-term neurologic deficits and cognitive impairment in children with CM. Methods: Admission CSF tau concentrations were measured in 145 Ugandan children with CM and compared to clinical and laboratory factors and acute and chronic neurologic and cognitive outcomes. Results: Elevated CSF tau concentrations were associated with younger age, increased disease severity (lower glucose and hemoglobin concentrations, malaria retinopathy, acute kidney injury, and prolonged coma duration, all P <. 05), and an increased CSF:plasma albumin ratio, a marker of blood-brain barrier breakdown (P <. 001). Admission CSF tau concentrations were associated with the presence of neurologic deficits at hospital discharge, and at 6, 12, and 24 months postdischarge (all P ≤. 02). After adjustment for potential confounding factors, elevated log10-transformed CSF tau concentrations correlated with worse cognitive outcome z scores over 2-year follow-up for associative memory (β coefficient, -0.31 [95% confidence interval [CI], -.53 to -.10]) in children <5 years of age, and for overall cognition (-0.69 [95% CI, -1.19 to -.21]), attention (-0.78 [95% CI, -1.34 to -.23]), and working memory (-1.0 [95% CI, -1.68 to -.31]) in children ≥5 years of age (all P <. 006). Conclusions: Acute axonal injury in children with CM is associated with long-term neurologic deficits and cognitive impairment. CSF tau concentrations at the time of the CM episode may identify children at high risk of long-term neurocognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1161-1168
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Volume70
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 3 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

Keywords

  • cerebral malaria
  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • cognitive
  • impairment
  • neurologic
  • tau

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