Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites and is one of the most life-threatening infectious diseases in humans. Infection can result in severe complications such as cerebral malaria, acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome, and acute renal injury. These complications are mainly caused by P. falciparum infection and are major causes of death associated with malaria. There are a few species of rodent-infective malaria parasites, and mice infected with such parasites are now widely used for screening candidate drugs and vaccines and for studying host immune responses and pathogenesis associated with disease-related complications. We found that mice of the NC/Jic strain infected with rodent malarial parasites exhibit distinctive disease-related complications such as cerebral malaria and nephrotic syndrome, in addition to a rapid increase in parasitemia. Here, we focus on the analysis of host genetic factors that affect malarial pathogenesis and describe the characteristic features, utility, and future prospects for exploitation of the NC/Jic strain as a novel mouse model for malaria research.
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