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BACKGROUND: Chondroitin-4-sulfate (CSA) was recently described as a Plasmodium falciparum cytoadherence receptor present on Saimiri brain microvascular and human lung endothelial cells. MATERIALS AND METHODS: To specifically study chondroitin-4-sulfate-mediated cytoadherence, a parasite population was selected through panning of the Palo-Alto (FUP) 1 P. falciparum isolate on monolayers of Saimiri brain microvascular endothelial cells (SBEC). Immunofluorescence showed this SBEC cell line to be unique for its expression of CSA-proteoglycans, namely CD44 and thrombomodulin, in the absence of CD36 and ICAM-1. RESULTS: The selected parasite population was used to monitor cytoadherence inhibition/dissociating activities in Saimiri sera collected at different times after intramuscular injection of 50 mg CSA/kg of body weight. Serum inhibitory activity was detectable 30 min after injection and persisted for 8 hr. Furthermore, when chondroitin-4-sulfate was injected into monkeys infected with Palo-Alto (FUP) 1 P. falciparum, erythrocytes containing P. falciparum mature forms were released into the circulation. The cytoadherence phenotype of circulating infected red blood cells (IRBC) was determined before and 8 hr after inoculation of CSA. Before inoculation, in vitro cytoadherence of IRBCs was not inhibited by CSA. In contrast, in vitro cytoadherence of circulating infected erythrocytes obtained 8 hr after CSA inoculation was inhibited by more than 90% by CSA. CONCLUSIONS: In the squirrel monkey model for infection with P. falciparum, chondroitin-4-sulfate impairs in vitro and in vivo cytoadherence of parasitized erythrocytes.