Home 5 People 5 Ana Paula Arez

Ana Paula Arez

Orcid profile

Ciência Vitae profile

Research Interests
Parasite-host interactions
Molecular markers
Biological collections

Principal Investigator (with Habilitation) at the Medical Parasitology Unit of Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (IHMT) and at Global Health and Tropical Medicine Center (GHTM) of University NOVA de Lisboa (UNL). She holds a PhD in Biology (2000) and a BSc in Biology (1992) by the Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon.

Presently at IHMT NOVA, she is the Leader of the GHTM’s Research Group Vector Borne Diseases, Facilitator of the GHTM’s Cross Cutting Issue Diagnostics and Coordinator of the GHTM biobank – Biotropical Resources (BIOTROP).


Ana Paula Arez teaches at Biomedical Sciences, Parasitology and Global Health PhD and MSc courses of IHMT NOVA, namely on the Curricular Units:

Experimental Design and Thesis Project, Scientific Communication, Global Perspective of Parasitic Diseases, Molecular Epidemiology in Infectious and parasitic Diseases (PhD in Biomedical Sciences), Impact of Diseases and their Determinants (PhD in Global Health and Tropical Diseases), Molecular Parasitology, Malaria, Genomics and Proteomics applied to Infectious Diseases, Molecular Epidemiology (Master in Biomedical Sciences), Medical Protozoology, Malaria (Coordinator, Master in Medical Parasitology), Parasitic Infectious (Master in Tropical Health).

Main Publications

Balau A, Sobral D, Abrantes P, Santos I, Mixão V, Gomes JP, Antunes S, Arez AP 2023. Differential gene expression of malaria parasite in response to red blood cell-specific glycolytic intermediate 2,3-Diphosphoglycerate (2,3-DPG). International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 24, 16869. doi:10.3390/ijms242316869

Carvalho M, Medeiros MM, Morais I, Lopes CS, Balau A, Santos NC, Carvalho FA, Arez AP 2023. 2,3-Diphosphoglycerate and the Protective Effect of Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency against Malaria Infection—Exploring the Role of the Red Blood Cell Membrane. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 24, 1336. doi:10.3390/ijms24021336

Morais I, Medeiros MM, Carvalho M, Morello J, Teixeira SM, Maciel S, Nhantumbo J, Balau A, Rosa MTG, Nogueira F, Rodrigues JA, Carvalho FA, Antunes AMM, Arez AP Synthetic Red Blood Cell-Specific Glycolytic Intermediate 2,3-Diphosphoglycerate (2,3-DPG) Inhibits Plasmodium falciparum Development In Vitro. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 12, 840968. doi:10.3389/fcimb.2022.840968

Machado P, Manco L, Gomes C, Mendes C, Fernandes N, Salomé G, Sitoe L, Chibute S, Langa J, Ribeiro L, Miranda J, Cano J, Pinto J, Amorim A, do Rosário VE, Arez AP Pyruvate kinase deficiency in sub-Saharan Africa: identification of a highly frequent missense mutation (G829A;Glu277Lys) and association with malaria. PLoS ONE, 7: e47071. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047071

Mendes C, Dias F, Figueiredo J, Gonzalez VM, Cano J, de Sousa B, do Rosário VE, Benito A, Berzosa P, Arez AP Duffy negative antigen is no longer a barrier to Plasmodium vivax – molecular evidences from the African West Coast (Angola and Equatorial Guinea). PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 5: e1192. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001192

Sutherland CJ, Tanomsing N, Nolder D, Oguike M, Jennison C, Pukrittayakamee S, Dolecek C, Hien TT, do Rosario VE, Arez AP, Pinto J, Michon P, Escalante AA, Nosten F, Burke M, Lee R, Blaze M, Otto TD, Barnwell JW, Pain A, Williams J, White NJ, Day NP, Snounou G, Lockhart PJ, Chiodini PL, Imwong M, Polley SD 2010. Two nonrecombining sympatric forms of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium ovale occur globally. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 201: 1544-1550. doi:10.1086/652240

Machado P, Pereira R, Rocha AM, Manco L, Fernandes N, Miranda J, Ribeiro L, do Rosário VE, Amorim A, Gusmao L, Arez AP Malaria: looking for selection signatures in the human PKLR gene region. British Journal of Haematology, 149: 775-784. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2141.2010.08165.x

Alves J, Machado P, Silva J, Gonçalves N, Ribeiro L, Faustino P, do Rosário VE, Manco L, Gusmão L, Amorim A, Arez AP Analysis of malaria associated genetic traits in Cabo Verde, a melting pot of European and sub Saharan settlers. Blood Cells, Molecules and Diseases, 44: 62-68. doi:10.1016/j.bcmd.2009.09.008

Färnert A, Arez AP, Babiker HA, Beck H-P, Benito A, Björkman A, Bruce MC, Conway DJ, Day KP, Henning L, Mercereau-Puijalon O, Ranford-Cartwright LC, Rubio JM, Snounou G, Walliker D, Zwetyenga J, do Rosario VE 2001. Genotyping of Plasmodium falciparum infections by PCR: a comparative multicentre study. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 95: 225-232. doi:10.1016/S0035-9203(01)90175-0

Färnert A, Arez AP, Correia AT, Björkman A, Snounou G, do Rosário VE 1999. Sampling and storage of blood and the detection of malaria parasites by polymerase chain reaction. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 93: 50-53. doi:10.1016/S0035-9203(99)90177-3

Research Projects

As Principal Investigator

2018-2022 – When the host cell is not so cosy anymore… A drop off in energy or an increase in toxicity? FCT/MCTES, PTDC_BIA-CEL_28456_2017

2011-2015 – Factors affecting dynamics of Plasmodium concomitant infections in a malaria endemic area: analysis through a new modelling approach. FCT/MCTES, PTDC/SAU-EPI/113326/2009

2011-2014 – Disorders on the Glycolytic and Pentose Phosphate Pathways of the Red Blood Cell – how do they affect Plasmodium infection? FCT/MCTES, PTDC/SAU-MET/110323/2009

2005-2009 – Evaluation of malaria epidemiology in the republic of Cabo Verde. FCT/MCES, POCI/SAU-ESP/55110/2004

2001-2004 – Mixed infections in malaria: studies of transmission and interaction. FCT/MCTES, POCTI/1999/ESP/35789/99.

International projects – Principal Investigator at GHTM IHMT NOVA

2020-2022 – Consortium for Malaria Research in Angola (C-MalAng). UMAP (University of Maryland-Angola-Portugal) Malaria Working Group Development. President’s Global Impact Fund. PI Joana Carneiro da Silva, University of Maryland Global Impact Fund, USA.

2008–2009 – Tisuna Muzototo – Integrated Project to malaria control program in Chókwè Region (Gaza, Mozambique) (EC, SANTE-HEALTH/2006/105-398). Coordination of workpackage “Mapping of malaria transmission risk throughout the districts chosen for the study and establishment of sentinel sites”.

Creative Output

The first interest was the malaria epidemiology, transmission dynamics, interactions and ecological relationships between different parasites co-infecting the same host and several studies in malaria endemic areas, namely Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Mozambique, and Equatorial Guinea were conducted (doi: 10.1017/s0031182099003972, doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2003.68.2.0680161, doi:10.7150/ijbs.1.96, doi:10.1186/1475-2875-5-32, 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001192, doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-114 114 PMID:23537170, doi:10.1128/AAC.02556-15, doi:10.1186/s12936-018-2354-x).

During the studies in Cape Verde (doi:10.1017/s0031182099003972, doi:10.1186/1475-2875-5-32), the observation that infected people developed mild symptoms in spite of their presumptive weak immune status and high parasitaemia aroused interest on the human factors of susceptibility to malaria. Some protective human variants are those involving the erythrocyte-specific structural proteins and enzymes so research on the association of enzyme disorders on the Red Blood Cell (RBC) glycolytic and pentose-phosphate pathways and protection against the Plasmodium parasite has been initiated. Population studies showed that malaria was the most likely selective pressure that seems to shape both the pklr and tpi genomic regions in individuals from malaria endemic countries (doi:10.1002/ajhb.20819, doi:10.1016/j.bcmd.2009.09.008, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2141.2010.08165.x, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047071, doi:10.1016/j.meegid.2015.03.020).

Looking then at biological processes involved, we hypothesized that the accumulation of 2,3-DPG inside RBC due to pyruvate kinase deficiency could create an unsuitable environment for parasite and could be involved in the protective mechanism. Results showed an inhibition of parasite growth as parasites subjected to the artificial increase of 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (2,3-DPG) in the culture medium produce significantly lower progeny and under expression of genes associated with cell cycle control; no effect was observed on the host cell, instead, the metabolic profile of 2,3-DPG treated infected cells became closer to that of non-infected cells (doi:10.3390/ijms242316869; doi:10.3389/fcimb.2022.840968, doi:10.3390/ijms24021336).

Studies on other human disorders associated to malaria protection have also been done in collaboration with other researchers, highlighting an ongoing follow-up of a cohort of Angolan children with Sickle Cell Anemia (doi:10.1179/136485908X355238, doi:10.1007/s11033-020-05628-8, doi:10.1007/s11033-022-07831-1).

Additionally, being aware that prompt and accurate diagnosis is essential to prevent a mild malaria case from developing into severe disease or death, studies to develop new simple, rapid, and sensitive molecular diagnostic tests to characterize malaria infected isolates have been done. Previous work is currently being restarted in order to develop a platform test for the rapid detection of markers associated to antimalarial drug resistance (doi:10.1006/expr.2000.4496, doi:10.1016/S0035-9203(01)90175-0, doi:10.1016/S0035-9203(99)90177-3).