A new international study has found that antioxidant supplements may help prevent the cognitive impairment that is often associated with cerebral malaria.
While malaria rates are extremely low among Americans, the findings suggest that antioxidant therapy may also be beneficial for patients suffering from brain injuries, neurodegenerative diseases and other serious infectious conditions, according to the researchers.
Individuals who develop malaria often suffer from impaired memory, poor learning skills and inferior language capabilities.
For the study, lead author Guy Zimmerman, associate chair for research at the University of Utah School of Medicine, and his colleagues infected a group of lab mice with cerebral malaria, and found that the disease drastically increased the production of molecules indicative of high oxidative stress.
However, when the subjects were given two antioxidant agents—known as desferoxamine and N-acetylcysteine—the presence of oxidative stress diminished and the development of cognitive damage was slowed.
"Our findings are exciting because the clinical implications may not be limited to cerebral malaria," said Zimmerman. "Antioxidant treatment may be a successful therapeutic strategy for controlling long-lasting neurological consequences."