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author:("Lim, pharate")
1.  High-Throughput Analysis of Antimalarial Susceptibility Data by the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) In Vitro Analysis and Reporting Tool 
Assessment of in vitro susceptibility is a fundamental component of antimalarial surveillance studies, but wide variations in the measurement of parasite growth and the calculation of inhibitory constants make comparisons of data from different laboratories difficult. Here we describe a Web-based, high-throughput in vitro analysis and reporting tool (IVART) generating inhibitory constants for large data sets. Fourteen primary data sets examining laboratory-determined susceptibility to artemisinin derivatives and artemisinin combination therapy partner drugs were collated from 11 laboratories. Drug concentrations associated with half-maximal inhibition of growth (IC50s) were determined by a modified sigmoid Emax model-fitting algorithm, allowing standardized analysis of 7,350 concentration-inhibition assays involving 1,592 isolates. Examination of concentration-inhibition data revealed evidence of apparent paradoxical growth at high concentrations of nonartemisinin drugs, supporting amendment of the method for calculating the maximal drug effect in each assay. Criteria for defining more-reliable IC50s based on estimated confidence intervals and growth ratios improved correlation coefficients for the drug pairs mefloquine-quinine and chloroquine-desethylamodiaquine in 9 of 11 and 8 of 8 data sets, respectively. Further analysis showed that maximal drug inhibition was higher for artemisinins than for other drugs, particularly in ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay)-based assays, a finding consistent with the earlier onset of action of these drugs in the parasite life cycle. This is the first high-throughput analytical approach to apply consistent constraints and reliability criteria to large, diverse antimalarial susceptibility data sets. The data also illustrate the distinct biological properties of artemisinins and underline the need to apply more sensitive approaches to assessing in vitro susceptibility to these drugs.
PMCID: PMC3697366  PMID: 23612201
2.  Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Pursat province, western Cambodia: a parasite clearance rate study 
The Lancet infectious diseases  2012;12(11):851-858.
Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum has been reported in Pailin, western Cambodia, detected as a slow parasite clearance rate in vivo. Emergence of this phenotype in western Thailand and possibly elsewhere threatens to compromise the effectiveness of all artemisinin-based combination therapies. Parasite genetics is associated with parasite clearance rate but does not account for all variation. We investigated contributions of both parasite genetics and host factors to the artemisinin-resistance phenotype in Pursat, western Cambodia.
Between June 19 and Nov 28, 2009, and June 26 and Dec 6, 2010, we enrolled patients aged 10 years or older with uncomplicated falciparum malaria, a density of asexual parasites of at least 10 000 per μL of whole blood, no symptoms or signs of severe malaria, no other cause of febrile illness, and no chronic illness. We gave participants 4 mg/kg artesunate at 0, 24, and 48 h, 15 mg/kg mefloquine at 72 h, and 10 mg/kg mefloquine at 96 h. We assessed parasite density on thick blood films every 6 h until undetectable. The parasite clearance half-life was calculated from the parasite clearance curve. We genotyped parasites with 18 microsatellite markers and patients for haemoglobin E, α-thalassaemia, and a mutation of G6PD, which encodes glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. To account for the possible effects of acquired immunity on half-life, we used three surrogates for increased likelihood of exposure to P falciparum: age, sex, and place of residence. This study is registered with, number NCT00341003.
We assessed 3504 individuals from all six districts of Pursat province seeking treatment for malaria symptoms. We enrolled 168 patients with falciparum malaria who met inclusion criteria. The geometric mean half-life was 5.85 h (95% CI 5.54–6.18) in Pursat, similar to that reported in Pailin (p=0.109). We identified two genetically different parasite clone groups: parasite group 1 (PG1) and parasite group 2 (PG2). Non-significant increases in parasite clearance half-life were seen in patients with haemoglobin E (0.55 h; p=0.078), those of male sex (0.96 h; p=0.064), and in 2010 (0.68 h; p=0.068); PG1 was associated with a significant increase (0.79 h; p=0.033). The mean parasite heritability of half-life was 0.40 (SD 0.17).
Heritable artemisinin resistance is established in a second Cambodian province. To accurately identify parasites that are intrinsically susceptible or resistant to artemisinins, future studies should explore the effect of erythrocyte polymorphisms and specific immune responses on half-life variation.
Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
PMCID: PMC3786328  PMID: 22940027
3.  Ex Vivo Susceptibility of Plasmodium falciparum to Antimalarial Drugs in Western, Northern, and Eastern Cambodia, 2011-2012: Association with Molecular Markers 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2013;57(11):5277-5283.
In 2008, dihydroartemisinin (DHA)-piperaquine (PPQ) became the first-line treatment for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in western Cambodia. Recent reports of increased treatment failure rates after DHA-PPQ therapy in this region suggest that parasite resistance to DHA, PPQ, or both is now adversely affecting treatment. While artemisinin (ART) resistance is established in western Cambodia, there is no evidence of PPQ resistance. To monitor for resistance to PPQ and other antimalarials, we measured drug susceptibilities for parasites collected in 2011 and 2012 from Pursat, Preah Vihear, and Ratanakiri, in western, northern, and eastern Cambodia, respectively. Using a SYBR green I fluorescence assay, we calculated the ex vivo 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) of 310 parasites to six antimalarials: chloroquine (CQ), mefloquine (MQ), quinine (QN), PPQ, artesunate (ATS), and DHA. Geometric mean IC50s (GMIC50s) for all drugs (except PPQ) were significantly higher in Pursat and Preah Vihear than in Ratanakiri (P ≤ 0.001). An increased copy number of P. falciparum mdr1 (pfmdr1), an MQ resistance marker, was more prevalent in Pursat and Preah Vihear than in Ratanakiri and was associated with higher GMIC50s for MQ, QN, ATS, and DHA. An increased copy number of a chromosome 5 region (X5r), a candidate PPQ resistance marker, was detected in Pursat but was not associated with reduced susceptibility to PPQ. The ex vivo IC50 and pfmdr1 copy number are important tools in the surveillance of multidrug-resistant (MDR) parasites in Cambodia. While MDR P. falciparum is prevalent in western and northern Cambodia, there is no evidence for PPQ resistance, suggesting that DHA-PPQ treatment failures result mainly from ART resistance.
PMCID: PMC3811250  PMID: 23939897
4.  Multiple populations of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Cambodia 
Nature genetics  2013;45(6):10.1038/ng.2624.
We describe an analysis of genome variation in 825 Plasmodium falciparum samples from Asia and Africa that reveals an unusual pattern of parasite population structure at the epicentre of artemisinin resistance in western Cambodia. Within this relatively small geographical area we have discovered several distinct but apparently sympatric parasite subpopulations with extremely high levels of genetic differentiation. Of particular interest are three subpopulations, all associated with clinical resistance to artemisinin, which have skewed allele frequency spectra and remarkably high levels of haplotype homozygosity, indicative of founder effects and recent population expansion. We provide a catalogue of SNPs that show high levels of differentiation in the artemisinin-resistant subpopulations, including codon variants in various transporter proteins and DNA mismatch repair proteins. These data provide a population genetic framework for investigating the biological origins of artemisinin resistance and for defining molecular markers to assist its elimination.
PMCID: PMC3807790  PMID: 23624527
5.  Therapeutic efficacy of fixed dose artesunate-mefloquine for the treatment of acute, uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Kampong Speu, Cambodia 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:343.
Cambodia stopped using co-blistered, non-fixed, artesunate-mefloquine (ASMQ) in 2008 when treatment failure rates approximated 20%. Fixed dose combination (FDC) ASMQ is efficacious against acute uncomplicated, drug resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Southeast Asia but has not been tested in Cambodia.
A 42-day WHO therapeutic efficacy study (TES) was conducted in 2010 in Oral, Kampong Speu province, south-west Cambodia, in patients with acute uncomplicated P. falciparum. Daily administered FDC ASMQ for three days was dosed by age. Genotyping of isolates at day 0 and day of recrudescence by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) classified post-treatment recurrent falciparum parasitaemia. Ex vivo drug sensitivity testing ([3H] hypoxanthine method) was performed on baseline parasites and reported as the drug concentration inhibiting 50% parasite growth vs no drug (IC50).
Recruited patients numbered 45; five aged <15 years. On day 3, five of 45 [11.1 (3.7-24.05)] % patients were still parasite-positive; one of whom later failed treatment on day 21. There were 5/45 (11.1%) late treatment failures on day 21, 28 and 35; all were PCR diagnosed recrudescent infections. The day 0 MQ IC50s ranged from 11.5-238.9 (median 58.6) nM.
This TES demonstrated reasonable efficacy in an area of possible reduced artemisinin sensitivity and high MQ IC50s. Efficacy testing of FDC ASMQ should continue in Cambodia and be considered for reintroduction if efficacy returns.
PMCID: PMC3852322  PMID: 24060207
Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Cambodia; Artesunate; Mefloquine; Drug resistance
6.  Artemisinin Resistance in Plasmodium falciparum Malaria 
The New England journal of medicine  2009;361(5):455-467.
Artemisinin-based combination therapies are the recommended first-line treatments of falciparum malaria in all countries with endemic disease. There are recent concerns that the efficacy of such therapies has declined on the Thai–Cambodian border, historically a site of emerging antimalarial-drug resistance.
In two open-label, randomized trials, we compared the efficacies of two treatments for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Pailin, western Cambodia, and Wang Pha, northwestern Thailand: oral artesunate given at a dose of 2 mg per kilogram of body weight per day, for 7 days, and artesunate given at a dose of 4 mg per kilogram per day, for 3 days, followed by mefloquine at two doses totaling 25 mg per kilogram. We assessed in vitro and in vivo Plasmodium falciparum susceptibility, artesunate pharmacokinetics, and molecular markers of resistance.
We studied 40 patients in each of the two locations. The overall median parasite clearance times were 84 hours (interquartile range, 60 to 96) in Pailin and 48 hours (interquartile range, 36 to 66) in Wang Pha (P<0.001). Recrudescence confirmed by means of polymerase-chain-reaction assay occurred in 6 of 20 patients (30%) receiving artesunate monotherapy and 1 of 20 (5%) receiving artesunate–mefloquine therapy in Pailin, as compared with 2 of 20 (10%) and 1 of 20 (5%), respectively, in Wang Pha (P = 0.31). These markedly different parasitologic responses were not explained by differences in age, artesunate or dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics, results of isotopic in vitro sensitivity tests, or putative molecular correlates of P. falciparum drug resistance (mutations or amplifications of the gene encoding a multidrug resistance protein [PfMDR1] or mutations in the gene encoding sarco–endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase6 [PfSERCA]). Adverse events were mild and did not differ significantly between the two treatment groups.
P. falciparum has reduced in vivo susceptibility to artesunate in western Cambodia as compared with northwestern Thailand. Resistance is characterized by slow parasite clearance in vivo without corresponding reductions on conventional in vitro susceptibility testing. Containment measures are urgently needed. ( number, NCT00493363, and Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN64835265.)
PMCID: PMC3495232  PMID: 19641202
7.  Using CF11 cellulose columns to inexpensively and effectively remove human DNA from Plasmodium falciparum-infected whole blood samples 
Malaria Journal  2012;11:41.
Genome and transcriptome studies of Plasmodium nucleic acids obtained from parasitized whole blood are greatly improved by depletion of human DNA or enrichment of parasite DNA prior to next-generation sequencing and microarray hybridization. The most effective method currently used is a two-step procedure to deplete leukocytes: centrifugation using density gradient media followed by filtration through expensive, commercially available columns. This method is not easily implemented in field studies that collect hundreds of samples and simultaneously process samples for multiple laboratory analyses. Inexpensive syringes, hand-packed with CF11 cellulose powder, were recently shown to improve ex vivo cultivation of Plasmodium vivax obtained from parasitized whole blood. This study was undertaken to determine whether CF11 columns could be adapted to isolate Plasmodium falciparum DNA from parasitized whole blood and achieve current quantity and purity requirements for Illumina sequencing.
The CF11 procedure was compared with the current two-step standard of leukocyte depletion using parasitized red blood cells cultured in vitro and parasitized blood obtained ex vivo from Cambodian patients with malaria. Procedural variations in centrifugation and column size were tested, along with a range of blood volumes and parasite densities.
CF11 filtration reliably produces 500 nanograms of DNA with less than 50% human DNA contamination, which is comparable to that obtained by the two-step method and falls within the current quality control requirements for Illumina sequencing. In addition, a centrifuge-free version of the CF11 filtration method to isolate P. falciparum DNA at remote and minimally equipped field sites in malaria-endemic areas was validated.
CF11 filtration is a cost-effective, scalable, one-step approach to remove human DNA from P. falciparum-infected whole blood samples.
PMCID: PMC3295709  PMID: 22321373
CF11; Cellulose powder; Leukocyte depletion; Plasmodium falciparum; Malaria; Next-generation sequencing
8.  Multiple Genetic Backgrounds of the Amplified Plasmodium falciparum Multidrug Resistance (pfmdr1) Gene and Selective Sweep of 184F Mutation in Cambodia 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2010;201(10):1551-1560.
The emergence of artesunate-mefloquine (AS+MQ)–resistant Plasmodium falciparum in the Thailand-Cambodia region is a major concern for malaria control. Studies indicate that copy number increase and key alleles in the pfmdr1 gene are associated with AS+MQ resistance. In the present study, we investigated evidence for a selective sweep around pfmdr1 because of the spread of adaptive mutation and/or multiple copies of this gene in the P. falciparum population in Cambodia.
We characterized 13 microsatellite loci flanking (± 99 kb) pfmdr1 in 93 single-clone P. falciparum infections, of which 31 had multiple copies and 62 had a single copy of the pfmdr1 gene.
Genetic analysis revealed no difference in the mean (± standard deviation) expected heterozygosity (He) at loci around single (0.75 ± 0.03) and multiple (0.76 ± 0.04) copies of pfmdr1. Evidence of genetic hitchhiking with the selective sweep of certain haplotypes was seen around mutant (184F) pfmdr1 allele, irrespective of the copy number. There was an overall reduction of 28% in mean He (± SD) around mutant allele (0.56 ± 0.05), compared with wild-type allele (0.84 ± 0.02). Significant linkage disequilibrium was also observed between the loci flanking mutant pfmdr1 allele.
The 184F mutant allele is under selection, whereas amplification of pfmdr1 gene in this population occurs on multiple genetic backgrounds.
PMCID: PMC3096139  PMID: 20367478
9.  Decreased In Vitro Susceptibility of Plasmodium falciparum Isolates to Artesunate, Mefloquine, Chloroquine, and Quinine in Cambodia from 2001 to 2007 ▿  
This study describes the results of in vitro antimalarial susceptibility assays and molecular polymorphisms of Plasmodium falciparum isolates from Cambodia. The samples were collected from patients enrolled in therapeutic efficacy studies (TES) conducted by the Cambodian National Malaria Control Program for the routine efficacy monitoring of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) (artesunate-mefloquine and artemether-lumefantrine combinations). The isolates (n = 2,041) were obtained from nine sentinel sites during the years 2001 to 2007. Among these, 1,588 were examined for their in vitro susceptibilities to four antimalarials (artesunate, mefloquine, chloroquine, and quinine), and 851 isolates were genotyped for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The geometric means of the 50% inhibitory concentrations (GMIC50s) of the four drugs tested were significantly higher for isolates from western Cambodia than for those from eastern Cambodia. GMIC50s for isolates from participants who failed artesunate-mefloquine therapy were significantly higher than those for patients who were cured (P, <0.001). In vitro correlation of artesunate with the other drugs was observed. The distributions of the SNPs differed between eastern and western Cambodia, suggesting different genetic backgrounds of the parasite populations in these two parts of the country. The GMIC50s of the four drugs tested increased significantly in eastern Cambodia during 2006 to 2007. These results are worrisome, because they may signal deterioration of the efficacy of artesunate-mefloquine beyond the Cambodian-Thai border.
PMCID: PMC2863643  PMID: 20194689
10.  Origin and Evolution of Sulfadoxine Resistant Plasmodium falciparum 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(3):e1000830.
The Thailand-Cambodia border is the epicenter for drug-resistant falciparum malaria. Previous studies have shown that chloroquine (CQ) and pyrimethamine resistance originated in this region and eventually spread to other Asian countries and Africa. However, there is a dearth in understanding the origin and evolution of dhps alleles associated with sulfadoxine resistance. The present study was designed to reveal the origin(s) of sulfadoxine resistance in Cambodia and its evolutionary relationship to African and South American dhps alleles. We sequenced 234 Cambodian Plasmodium falciparum isolates for the dhps codons S436A/F, A437G, K540E, A581G and A613S/T implicated in sulfadoxine resistance. We also genotyped 10 microsatellite loci around dhps to determine the genetic backgrounds of various alleles and compared them with the backgrounds of alleles prevalent in Africa and South America. In addition to previously known highly-resistant triple mutant dhps alleles SGEGA and AGEAA (codons 436, 437, 540, 581, 613 are sequentially indicated), a large proportion of the isolates (19.3%) contained a 540N mutation in association with 437G/581G yielding a previously unreported triple mutant allele, SGNGA. Microsatellite data strongly suggest the strength of selection was greater on triple mutant dhps alleles followed by the double and single mutants. We provide evidence for at least three independent origins for the double mutants, one each for the SGKGA, AGKAA and SGEAA alleles. Our data suggest that the triple mutant allele SGEGA and the novel allele SGNGA have common origin on the SGKGA background, whereas the AGEAA triple mutant was derived from AGKAA on multiple, albeit limited, genetic backgrounds. The SGEAA did not share haplotypes with any of the triple mutants. Comparative analysis of the microsatellite haplotypes flanking dhps alleles from Cambodia, Kenya, Cameroon and Venezuela revealed an independent origin of sulfadoxine resistant alleles in each of these regions.
Author Summary
Widespread resistance to chloroquine (CQ) and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), the two least expensive and widely available antimalarial drugs, has become a major global public health challenge. It is known that point mutations in Plasmodium falciparum crt, dhfr and dhps genes contribute to resistance to CQ, pyrimethamine and sulfadoxine, respectively. CQ and pyrimethamine resistance spread to Africa and Asia from a few founding mutant lineages originating from the Thailand-Cambodia border. Here, we define the origins of dhps alleles in Cambodia and their relationships to African and South American counterparts. Three different triple mutant alleles including a novel allele comprised of 437G, 540N, and 581G mutations (S436G437N540G581A613) were found in Cambodia as opposed to a single triple mutant allele in South America and two common double mutant alleles in Africa. Microsatellite data suggest strong selection operating on triple mutant alleles as compared to double and single mutants in Cambodia. We report three major independent origins for the double mutants and at least two independent origins for the highly resistant triple mutant dhps alleles in Cambodia. We also show that the resistant dhps alleles in Africa and South America have distinct origins from Cambodia. These results suggest that the evolution and spread of sulfadoxine resistance is different from CQ and pyrimethamine resistance.
PMCID: PMC2847944  PMID: 20360965
11.  IgG Autoantibody to Brain Beta Tubulin III Associated with Cytokine Cluster-II Discriminate Cerebral Malaria in Central India 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8245.
The main processes in the pathogenesis of cerebral malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum involved sequestration of parasitized red blood cells and immunopathological responses. Among immune factors, IgG autoantibodies to brain antigens are increased in P. falciparum infected patients and correlate with disease severity in African children. Nevertheless, their role in the pathophysiology of cerebral malaria (CM) is not fully defined. We extended our analysis to an Indian population with genetic backgrounds and endemic and environmental status different from Africa to determine if these autoantibodies could be either a biomarker or a risk factor of developing CM.
Methods/Principal Findings
We investigated the significance of these self-reactive antibodies in clinically well-defined groups of P. falciparum infected patients manifesting mild malaria (MM), severe non-cerebral malaria (SM), or cerebral malaria (CM) and in control subjects from Gondia, a malaria epidemic site in central India using quantitative immunoprinting and multivariate statistical analyses. A two-fold complete-linkage hierarchical clustering allows classifying the different patient groups and to distinguish the CM from the others on the basis of their profile of IgG reactivity to brain proteins defined by PANAMA Blot. We identified beta tubulin III (TBB3) as a novel discriminant brain antigen in the prevalence of CM. In addition, circulating IgG from CM patients highly react with recombinant TBB3. Overall, correspondence analyses based on singular value decomposition show a strong correlation between IgG anti-TBB3 and elevated concentration of cluster-II cytokine (IFNγ, IL1β, TNFα, TGFβ) previously demonstrated to be a predictor of CM in the same population.
Collectively, these findings validate the relationship between antibody response to brain induced by P. falciparum infection and plasma cytokine patterns with clinical outcome of malaria. They also provide significant insight into the immune mechanisms associated to CM by the identification of TBB3 as a new disease-specific marker and potential therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC2788233  PMID: 20011600
12.  FlexiChip package: an universal microarray with a dedicated analysis software for high-thoughput SNPs detection linked to anti-malarial drug resistance 
Malaria Journal  2009;8:229.
A number of molecular tools have been developed to monitor the emergence and spread of anti-malarial drug resistance to Plasmodium falciparum. One of the major obstacles to the wider implementation of these tools is the absence of practical methods enabling high throughput analysis. Here a new Zip-code array is described, called FlexiChip, linked to a dedicated software program, which largely overcomes this problem.
Previously published microarray probes detecting single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) associated with parasite resistance to anti-malarial drugs (ResMalChip) were adapted for a universal microarray FlexiChip format. To evaluate the overall sensitivity of the FlexiChip package (microarray + software), the results of FlexiChip were compared to ResMalChip microarray, using the same extension probes and with the same PCR products. In both cases, sequence results were used as gold standard to calculate sensitivity and specificity. FlexiChip results obtained with a set of field isolates were then compared to those assessed in an independent reference laboratory.
The FlexiChip package gave results identical to the ResMalChip results in 92.7% of samples (kappa coefficient 0.8491, with a standard error 0.021) and had a sensitivity of 95.88% and a specificity of 97.68% compared to the sequencing as the reference method. Moreover the method performed well compared to the results obtained in the reference laboratories, with 99.7% of identical results (kappa coefficient 0.9923, S.E. 0.0523).
Microarrays could be employed to monitor P. falciparum drug resistance markers with greater cost effectiveness and the possibility for high throughput analysis. The FlexiChip package is a promising tool for use in poor resource settings of malaria endemic countries.
PMCID: PMC2770542  PMID: 19828052
13.  Towards high-throughput molecular detection of Plasmodium: new approaches and molecular markers 
Malaria Journal  2009;8:86.
Several strategies are currently deployed in many countries in the tropics to strengthen malaria control toward malaria elimination. To measure the impact of any intervention, there is a need to detect malaria properly. Mostly, decisions still rely on microscopy diagnosis. But sensitive diagnosis tools enabling to deal with a large number of samples are needed. The molecular detection approach offers a much higher sensitivity, and the flexibility to be automated and upgraded.
Two new molecular methods were developed: dot18S, a Plasmodium-specific nested PCR based on the 18S rRNA gene followed by dot-blot detection of species by using species-specific probes and CYTB, a Plasmodium-specific nested PCR based on cytochrome b gene followed by species detection using SNP analysis. The results were compared to those obtained with microscopic examination and the "standard" 18S rRNA gene based nested PCR using species specific primers. 337 samples were diagnosed.
Compared to the microscopy the three molecular methods were more sensitive, greatly increasing the estimated prevalence of Plasmodium infection, including P. malariae and P. ovale. A high rate of mixed infections was uncovered with about one third of the villagers infected with more than one malaria parasite species. Dot18S and CYTB sensitivity outranged the "standard" nested PCR method, CYTB being the most sensitive. As a consequence, compared to the "standard" nested PCR method for the detection of Plasmodium spp., the sensitivity of dot18S and CYTB was respectively 95.3% and 97.3%. Consistent detection of Plasmodium spp. by the three molecular methods was obtained for 83% of tested isolates. Contradictory results were mostly related to detection of Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium ovale in mixed infections, due to an "all-or-none" detection effect at low-level parasitaemia.
A large reservoir of asymptomatic infections was uncovered using the molecular methods. Dot18S and CYTB, the new methods reported herein are highly sensitive, allow parasite DNA extraction as well as genus- and species-specific diagnosis of several hundreds of samples, and are amenable to high-throughput scaling up for larger sample sizes. Such methods provide novel information on malaria prevalence and epidemiology and are suited for active malaria detection. The usefulness of such sensitive malaria diagnosis tools, especially in low endemic areas where eradication plans are now on-going, is discussed in this paper.
PMCID: PMC2686730  PMID: 19402894
14.  Pfmdr1 copy number and arteminisin derivatives combination therapy failure in falciparum malaria in Cambodia 
Malaria Journal  2009;8:11.
The combination of artesunate and mefloquine was introduced as the national first-line treatment for Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Cambodia in 2000. However, recent clinical trials performed at the Thai-Cambodian border have pointed to the declining efficacy of both artesunate-mefloquine and artemether-lumefantrine. Since pfmdr1 modulates susceptibility to mefloquine and artemisinin derivatives, the aim of this study was to assess the link between pfmdr1 copy number, in vitro susceptibility to individual drugs and treatment failure to combination therapy.
Blood samples were collected from P. falciparum-infected patients enrolled in two in vivo efficacy studies in north-western Cambodia: 135 patients were treated with artemether-lumefantrine (AL group) in Sampovloun in 2002 and 2003, and 140 patients with artesunate-mefloquine (AM group) in Sampovloun and Veal Veng in 2003 and 2004. At enrollment, the in vitro IC50 was tested and the strains were genotyped for pfmdr1 copy number by real-time PCR.
The pfmdr1 copy number was analysed for 115 isolates in the AM group, and for 109 isolates in the AL group. Parasites with increased pfmdr1 copy number had significantly reduced in vitro susceptibility to mefloquine, lumefantrine and artesunate. There was no association between pfmdr1 polymorphisms and in vitro susceptibilities. In the patients treated with AM, the mean pfmdr1copy number was lower in subjects with adequate clinical and parasitological response compared to those who experienced late treatment failure (n = 112, p < 0.001). This was not observed in the patients treated with AL (n = 96, p = 0.364). The presence of three or more copies of pfmdr1 were associated with recrudescence in artesunate-mefloquine treated patients (hazard ratio (HR) = 7.80 [95%CI: 2.09–29.10], N = 115), p = 0.002) but not with recrudescence in artemether-lumefantrine treated patients (HR = 1.03 [95%CI: 0.24–4.44], N = 109, p = 0.969).
This study shows that pfmdr1 copy number is a molecular marker of AM treatment failure in falciparum malaria on the Thai-Cambodian border. However, while it is associated with increased IC50 for lumefantrine, pfmdr1 copy number is not associated with AL treatment failure in the area, suggesting involvement of other molecular mechanisms in AL treatment failures in Cambodia.
PMCID: PMC2627910  PMID: 19138391
15.  Failure of artesunate-mefloquine combination therapy for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in southern Cambodia 
Malaria Journal  2009;8:10.
Resistance to anti-malarial drugs hampers control efforts and increases the risk of morbidity and mortality from malaria. The efficacy of standard therapies for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax malaria was assessed in Chumkiri, Kampot Province, Cambodia.
One hundred fifty-one subjects with uncomplicated falciparum malaria received directly observed therapy with 12 mg/kg artesunate (over three days) and 25 mg/kg mefloquine, up to a maximum dose of 600 mg artesunate/1,000 mg mefloquine. One hundred nine subjects with uncomplicated vivax malaria received a total of 25 mg/kg chloroquine, up to a maximum dose of 1,500 mg, over three days. Subjects were followed for 42 days or until recurrent parasitaemia was observed. For P. falciparum infected subjects, PCR genotyping of msp1, msp2, and glurp was used to distinguish treatment failures from new infections. Treatment failure rates at days 28 and 42 were analyzed using both per protocol and Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. Real Time PCR was used to measure the copy number of the pfmdr1 gene and standard 48-hour isotopic hypoxanthine incorporation assays were used to measure IC50 for anti-malarial drugs.
Among P. falciparum infected subjects, 47.0% were still parasitemic on day 2 and 11.3% on day 3. The PCR corrected treatment failure rates determined by survival analysis at 28 and 42 days were 13.1% and 18.8%, respectively. Treatment failure was associated with increased pfmdr1 copy number, higher initial parasitaemia, higher mefloquine IC50, and longer time to parasite clearance. One P. falciparum isolate, from a treatment failure, had markedly elevated IC50 for both mefloquine (130 nM) and artesunate (6.7 nM). Among P. vivax infected subjects, 42.1% suffered recurrent P. vivax parasitaemia. None acquired new P. falciparum infection.
The results suggest that artesunate-mefloquine combination therapy is beginning to fail in southern Cambodia and that resistance is not confined to the provinces at the Thai-Cambodian border. It is unclear whether the treatment failures are due solely to mefloquine resistance or to artesunate resistance as well. The findings of delayed clearance times and elevated artesunate IC50 suggest that artesunate resistance may be emerging on a background of mefloquine resistance.
PMCID: PMC2628668  PMID: 19138388
16.  Large-scale malaria survey in Cambodia: Novel insights on species distribution and risk factors 
Malaria Journal  2007;6:37.
In Cambodia, estimates of the malaria burden rely on a public health information system that does not record cases occurring among remote populations, neither malaria cases treated in the private sector nor asymptomatic carriers. A global estimate of the current malaria situation and associated risk factors is, therefore, still lacking.
A large cross-sectional survey was carried out in three areas of multidrug resistant malaria in Cambodia, enrolling 11,652 individuals. Fever and splenomegaly were recorded. Malaria prevalence, parasite densities and spatial distribution of infection were determined to identify parasitological profiles and the associated risk factors useful for improving malaria control programmes in the country.
Malaria prevalence was 3.0%, 7.0% and 12.3% in Sampovloun, Koh Kong and Preah Vihear areas. Prevalences and Plasmodium species were heterogeneously distributed, with higher Plasmodium vivax rates in areas of low transmission. Malaria-attributable fevers accounted only for 10–33% of malaria cases, and 23–33% of parasite carriers were febrile. Multivariate multilevel regression analysis identified adults and males, mostly involved in forest activities, as high risk groups in Sampovloun, with additional risks for children in forest-fringe villages in the other areas along with an increased risk with distance from health facilities.
These observations point to a more complex malaria situation than suspected from official reports. A large asymptomatic reservoir was observed. The rates of P. vivax infections were higher than recorded in several areas. In remote areas, malaria prevalence was high. This indicates that additional health facilities should be implemented in areas at higher risk, such as remote rural and forested parts of the country, which are not adequately served by health services. Precise malaria risk mapping all over the country is needed to assess the extensive geographical heterogeneity of malaria endemicity and risk populations, so that current malaria control measures can be reinforced accordingly.
PMCID: PMC1847522  PMID: 17389041
17.  Countrywide Survey Shows Very High Prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum Multilocus Resistance Genotypes in Cambodia 
Cambodia is located in an area of resistance to multiple antimalarials and has been the first country to implement the systematic use of an artesunate-mefloquine combination as first-line treatment for Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Little is known, however, about the prevalence of resistance mutations within the natural parasite populations, impeding rational drug policy in this context. Using direct sequencing of PCR products, we have analyzed sequence polymorphism of the dihydrofolate reductase-thymidylate synthase, dihydropteroate synthetase, and multidrug resistance 1 genes in a large number of clinical P. falciparum isolates collected in various areas of Cambodia. This highlighted a 100% prevalence of haplotypes with multiple mutations in the target genes of antifolates after more than a decade without use of antifolates for malaria therapy. A high prevalence of mutations in Pfmdr1, including mutations associated with decreased in vitro susceptibility to mefloquine and quinine, was also observed. In addition, novel, low-frequency mutations were detected in Pfmdr1. Our findings show an alarming rate of multilocus resistance genotypes in Cambodia, requiring diligent surveillance and imposing limitations on possible future drug combinations.
PMCID: PMC1196218  PMID: 16048916
18.  pfcrt Polymorphism and Chloroquine Resistance in Plasmodium falciparum Strains Isolated in Cambodia 
Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine resistance was first detected in Cambodia in the early sixties. Treatment with chloroquine was abandoned 20 years ago. In vitro chloroquine sensitivity monitoring indicates that all eastern Cambodian isolates were sensitive to chloroquine, whereas most isolates collected from western provinces displayed reduced susceptibility to chloroquine. This indicates that the rate of chloroquine resistance remains high and stable in this region in the absence of chloroquine pressure. Characterization of codons 72 to 78 and 218 to 220 of pfcrt revealed six distinct haplotypes, four of which had never been described. The frequency of each haplotype depended on the geographical origin of the samples. The CVIETIF//ISS haplotype was detected in 92% of western Cambodian isolates and in 11% of isolates collected from the eastern province, where CVMNKIF//ISA and CVIDTIF//ISS predominate. The detection of an intermediate haplotype from a susceptible area with 76T/220A, suggests that acquisition of chloroquine resistance might be a stepwise process, during which accumulation of point mutations modulates the response to chloroquine. The association of the K76T mutation with chloroquine resistance was not clear. The mutation was detected in resistant and susceptible samples, suggesting that additional factors are involved in chloroquine resistance. By contrast, the pfcrt D/N75E mutation was strongly associated with the in vitro chloroquine resistance in Cambodian isolates. The N86 allelic form of pfmdr1 was detected in all isolates, consistent with a poor association with resistance to chloroquine. This indicates that in vitro resistance to chloroquine was associated with accumulation of point mutations in pfcrt.
PMCID: PMC149020  PMID: 12499174

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