Several intraerythrocytic growth cycles of Plasmodium falciparum could be achieved in vitro using a serum free medium supplemented only with a human high density lipoprotein (HDL) fraction (d = 1.063-1.210). The parasitemia obtained was similar to that in standard culture medium containing human serum. The parasite development was incomplete with the low density lipoprotein (LDL) fraction and did not occur with the VLDL fraction. The lipid traffic from HDL to the infected erythrocytes was demonstrated by pulse labeling experiments using HDL loaded with either fluorescent NBD-phosphatidylcholine (NBD-PC) or radioactive [3H]palmitoyl-PC. At 37 degrees C, the lipid probes rapidly accumulated in the infected cells. After incubation in HDL medium containing labeled PC, a subsequent incubation in medium with either an excess of native HDL or 20% human serum induced the disappearance of the label from the erythrocyte plasma membrane but not from the intraerythrocytic parasite. Internalization of lipids did not occur at 4 degrees C. The mechanism involved a unidirectional flux of lipids but no endocytosis. The absence of labeling of P. falciparum, with HDL previously [125I]iodinated on their apolipoproteins or with antibodies against the apolipoproteins AI and AII by immunofluorescence and immunoblotting, confirmed that no endocytosis of the HDL was involved. A possible pathway of lipid transport could be a membrane flux since fluorescence videomicroscopy showed numerous organelles labeled with NBD-PC moving between the erythrocyte and the parasitophorous membranes. TLC analysis showed that a partial conversion of the PC to phosphatidylethanolamine was observed in P. falciparum-infected red cells after pulse with [3H]palmitoyl-PC-HDL. The intensity of the lipid traffic was stage dependent with a maximum at the trophozoite and young schizont stages (38th h of the erythrocyte life cycle). We conclude that the HDL fraction appears to be a major lipid source for Plasmodium growth.

This content is only available as a PDF.