Albumin levels in malaria patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis of their association with disease severity

Saruda Kuraeiad, Kwuntida Uthaisar Kotepui, Aongart Mahittikorn, Frederick Ramirez Masangkay, Polrat Wilairatana, Apiporn Thinkhamrop Suwannatrai, Kavin Thinkhamrop, Kinley Wangdi, Manas Kotepui

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Albumin, a key protein in human blood plasma, has been linked to various health conditions. However, its association with malaria, particularly in assessing disease severity, remains inadequately understood. This comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to elucidate the relationship between albumin levels and malaria severity. A comprehensive literature search was conducted across multiple databases, including Embase, Scopus, PubMed, MEDLINE, Ovid, and Google Scholar, to identify studies examining albumin levels in malaria patients. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were followed. Data were pooled using a random-effects model, and heterogeneity was assessed using I2 statistics. Subgroup and meta-regression analyses were performed based on publication year, study location, and Plasmodium species. A total of 37 studies were included in this review. The thematic synthesis indicated that albumin levels in malaria patients varied significantly based on geographical location. A meta-analysis of 28 studies found that albumin levels were significantly lower in malaria patients compared with non-malarial controls (P < 0.001, standardized mean differences [SMD] = -2.23, 95% CI - 3.25 to - 1.20, I2: 98%, random effects model, 28 studies). Additionally, subgroup analysis revealed variations in albumin levels based on geographical location and Plasmodium species. Regarding the association with disease severity, thematic synthesis showed that severe malaria cases generally had decreased albumin levels across various regions. However, one Brazilian study reported higher albumin levels in severe cases. A separate meta-analysis of five studies found significantly lower albumin levels in patients experiencing severe malaria relative to those with less severe forms of the disease (P < 0.001, SMD = -0.66, 95% CI - 1.07 to - 0.25), I2: 73%, random effects model, 5 studies). This study underscores the clinical significance of albumin as a potential biomarker for Plasmodium infection and the severity of malaria. The findings suggest that albumin level monitoring could be crucial in managing malaria patients, especially in assessing disease severity and tailoring treatment approaches. Additional studies are required to investigate the underlying mechanisms driving these associations and validate the clinical utility of albumin levels in malaria patient management.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number10185
    Pages (from-to)1-21
    Number of pages21
    JournalScientific Reports
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2024


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