December 9, 2022

Use of paracetamol to protect the kidneys in patients with severe malaria

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Paracetamol is used in many illnesses to relieve pain and fever, but a study just published in Clinical infectious diseases has shown that it may also help protect against kidney damage in patients with malaria.

The study led by former Menzies Ph.D. student Daniel Cooper with acting professors Bridget Barber, Matthew Grigg and Professor Nick Anstey of the Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies), with partners in Malaysia, found that for patients with severe malaria caused by the malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi (the most common cause of malaria in Malaysia), taking paracetamol regularly for 3 days resulted in improved kidney function when it was tested a week later.

Dr Daniel Cooper said the results are important because they will help provide the best possible treatment for patients with severe malaria.

“Even minor kidney injury can have long-term effects, so anything we can do to minimize kidney damage from malaria will benefit the long-term outcomes of these patients,” Dr. Cooper said.

In collaboration with international partners, the study involved 396 people with known malaria in Sabah, Malaysia.

Assistant Professor Bridget Barber said that in severe malaria red blood cells can rupture, releasing hemoglobin which can have a toxic effect on the kidneys, and paracetamol is now thought to help protect against these toxic effects .

“These results are consistent with other studies conducted in patients with other forms of malaria, including adults in Bangladesh and children in Africa. Importantly, these results also suggest that paracetamol may help protect the kidneys in other conditions also associated with rupture of red blood cells,” said Professor A/Barber.

Research reveals defense against malaria parasites

More information:
Daniel J Cooper et al, The effect of regularly dosed acetaminophen versus no acetaminophen on renal function in Plasmodium knowlesi malaria (PACKNOW): a randomized controlled trial, Clinical infectious diseases (2022). DOI: 10.1093/cid/ciac152

Provided by the Menzies School of Health Research

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