An impaired erythropoietic response to anemia has been noted in human patients with malaria and in rodents experimentally infected with Plasmodium berghei. We have attempted to characterize the erythropoietic response in mice with a fatal P berghei infection, with particular emphasis on changes in marrow hematopoietic stem cells. Mice infected with P berghei had dramatic decreases in bone marrow cellularity, erythroblasts, BFU-E, and CFU-E as early as 24 hours postinfection and before there was any change in hematocrit. With development of anemia, marrows became erythropoietic with some expansion of the CFU-E compartment, but the BFU-E pool remained depleted and reticulocyte response was inadequate. There was no significant change in CFU-S from marrows of malaria-infected mice one day after infection. The lethality of malaria infection may take three weeks to be revealed, but it may be determined within hours of the infection by the irreparable changes in marrow erythroid stem cells.

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