Plasmodium falciparum; malaria; parasites; artimisinin; artesunate; dihydroartemisinin clindamycin; piperaquine; quinine; doxycycline; resistance; Western Cambodia; Africa; Angola; Greater Mekong Subregion; Vietnam
In 2006, the Mauritanian Ministry of Health adopted a new therapeutic strategy based on the systematic use of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), artesunate-amodiaquine and artemether-lumefantrine, for the first- and second-line treatment of uncomplicated malaria, respectively, regardless of Plasmodium spp. In the Saharan zone of the country, recent studies have shown that Plasmodium vivax largely predominates over Plasmodium falciparum. Anti-malarial drug response of P. vivax has not been evaluated in Mauritania. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the clinical efficacy and tolerance of chloroquine to treat P. vivax malaria in Mauritanian patients.
Plasmodium vivax-infected patients aged > 6 months old were enrolled in Nouakchott and Atar in September–October 2013. Chloroquine was administered at the standard dose of 25 mg base/kg body weight over three days. Patients were followed until day 28, according to the standard 2009 World Health Organization protocol.
A total of 128 patients (67 in Nouakchott and 61 in Atar) were enrolled in the study. Seven patients (5.5%) were either excluded or lost to follow-up. Based on the per protocol analysis, chloroquine efficacy (adequate clinical and parasitological response) was 100%. Treatment was well-tolerated. One patient was excluded on day 1 due to urticaria and treated with artesunate-amodiaquine.
Although the current national treatment guideline recommends artesunate-amodiaquine for the first-line treatment of uncomplicated malaria, including P. vivax malaria, chloroquine may still have an important role to play in anti-malarial chemotherapy in Mauritania. Further epidemiological studies are required to map the distribution of P. vivax and P. falciparum in the country.
Drug resistance; Plasmodium vivax; Artemisinin; 4-aminoquinolines; Clinical trial
A regular evaluation of therapeutic efficacy in sentinel sites and a system of surveillance are required to establish treatment guidelines and adapt national anti-malarial drug policy to the rapidly changing epidemiology of drug-resistant malaria. The current anti-malarial treatment guideline in Mauritania, officially recommended since 2006, is based on artemisinin-based combination therapy. The aim of the present study was to evaluate clinical efficacy and tolerance of artesunate-amodiaquine, the first-line treatment for acute uncomplicated malaria, in Mauritanian paediatric and adult patients to validate its continued use in the country.
Plasmodium falciparum-infected symptomatic patients aged > six months were enrolled in Kobeni and Timbedra in southern Mauritania in September to October 2013. Co-formulated artesunate-amodiaquine was administered at the recommended dose over three days. Patients were followed until day 28. Parasitological and clinical response was classified according to the standard 2009 World Health Organization protocol.
A total of 130 patients (65 in Kobeni and 65 in Timbedra) were enrolled in the study. Seventeen patients (13.1%) were either excluded (before PCR correction) or lost to follow-up. Based on the per protocol analysis, artesunate-amodiaquine efficacy (i.e., the proportion of adequate clinical and parasitological response) was 96.6% in Kobeni and 98.2% in Timbedra before PCR correction. Late clinical failure was observed in two patients in Kobeni and one patient in Timbedra. After PCR correction, the efficacy rate in the two study sites was 98.2%. On day 3, all patients were afebrile and had negative smears. Treatment was well tolerated.
Artesunate-amodiaquine is well tolerated and highly efficacious for the treatment of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria. In the majority of patients, fever and parasitaemia were rapidly cleared before day 3. The results support the national anti-malarial drug guideline for a continued use of artesunate-amodiaquine as a first-line drug for uncomplicated malaria in southern Mauritania.
Drug resistance; Plasmodium falciparum; Artemisinin; 4-aminoquinolines; Clinical trial
Delayed clearance of Plasmodium falciparum parasites is used as an operational indicator of potential artemisinin resistance. Effective community-based systems to detect P. falciparum cases remaining positive 72 hours after initiating treatment would be valuable for guiding case follow-up in areas of known resistance risk and for detecting areas of emerging resistance.
Systems incorporating existing networks of village malaria workers (VMWs) to monitor day three-positive P. falciparum cases were piloted in three provinces in western Cambodia. Quantitative and qualitative data were used to evaluate the wider feasibility and sustainability of community-based surveillance of day three-positive P. falciparum cases.
Of 294 day-3 blood slides obtained across all sites (from 297 day-0 positives), 63 were positive for P. falciparum, an overall day-3 positivity rate of 21%. There were significant variations in the systems implemented by different partners. Full engagement of VMWs and health centre staff is critical. VMWs are responsible for a range of individual tasks including preparing blood slides on day-0, completing forms, administering directly observed therapy (DOT) on days 0–2, obtaining follow-up slides on day-3 and transporting slides and paperwork to their supervising health centre. When suitably motivated, unsalaried VMWs are willing and able to produce good quality blood smears and achieve very high rates of DOT and day-3 follow-up.
Community-based surveillance of day-3 P. falciparum cases is feasible, but highly intensive, and as such needs strong and continuous support, particularly supervision and training. The purpose and role of community-based day-3 surveillance should be assessed in the light of resource requirements; scaling-up would need to be systematic and targeted, based on clearly defined epidemiological criteria. To be truly comprehensive, the system would need to be extended beyond VMWs to other public and private health providers.
Malaria; Cambodia; Surveillance; Anti-malarials; Artemisinin; Case management; Community health worker; Village malaria worker; Operational research
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.
The declining efficacy of artemisinin derivatives against Plasmodium falciparum in western Cambodia is a major concern. The knowledge gap in the understanding of the mechanisms involved hampers designing monitoring tools. Here, we culture-adapted 20 isolates from Pailin and Ratanakiri (areas of artemisinin resistance and susceptibility in western and eastern Cambodia, respectively) and studied their in vitro response to dihydroartemisinin. No significant difference between the two sets of isolates was observed in the classical isotopic test. However, a 6-h pulse exposure to 700 nM dihydroartemisinin (ring-stage survival assay -RSA]) revealed a clear-cut geographic dichotomy. The survival rate of exposed ring-stage parasites (ring stages) was 17-fold higher in isolates from Pailin (median, 13.5%) than in those from Ratanakiri (median, 0.8%), while exposed mature stages were equally and highly susceptible (0.6% and 0.7%, respectively). Ring stages survived drug exposure by cell cycle arrest and resumed growth upon drug withdrawal. The reduced susceptibility to artemisinin in Pailin appears to be associated with an altered in vitro phenotype of ring stages from Pailin in the RSA.
We describe here the results of antimalarial therapeutic efficacy studies conducted in Cambodia from 2008 to 2010. A total of 15 studies in four sentinel sites were conducted using dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) for the treatment of Plasmodium falciparum infection and chloroquine (CQ) and DP for the treatment of P. vivax infection. All studies were performed according to the standard World Health Organization protocol for the assessment of antimalarial treatment efficacy. Among the studies of DP for the treatment of P. falciparum, an increase in treatment failure was observed in the western provinces. In 2010, the PCR-corrected treatment failure rates for DP on day 42 were 25% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 10 to 51%) in Pailin and 10.7% (95% CI = 4 to 23%) in Pursat, while the therapeutic efficacy of DP remained high (100%) in Ratanakiri and Preah Vihear provinces, located in northern and eastern Cambodia. For the studies of P. vivax, the day 28 uncorrected treatment failure rate among patients treated with CQ ranged from 4.4 to 17.4%; DP remained 100% effective in all sites. Further study is required to investigate suspected P. falciparum resistance to piperaquine in western Cambodia; the results of in vitro and molecular studies were not found to support the therapeutic efficacy findings. The emergence of artemisinin resistance in this region has likely put additional pressure on piperaquine. Although DP appears to be an appropriate new first-line treatment for P. vivax in Cambodia, alternative treatments are urgently needed for P. falciparum-infected patients in western Cambodia.
Artemisinin-resistant malaria along the Thailand-Cambodian border is an important public health concern, yet mechanisms of drug action and their contributions to the development of resistance are poorly understood. The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of oral artesunate monotherapy were explored in a dose-ranging trial in an area of emerging artesunate resistance in western Cambodia. We enrolled 143 evaluable subjects with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in an open label study of directly observed artesunate monotherapy at 3 dose levels (2, 4, and 6 mg/kg of body weight/day) for 7 days at Tasanh Health Center, Tasanh, Cambodia. Clinical outcomes were similar among the 3 groups. Wide variability in artesunate and dihydroartemisinin concentrations in plasma was observed. No significant dose-effect or concentration-effect relationships between pharmacokinetic (PK) and parasite clearance parameters were observed, though baseline parasitemia was modestly correlated with increased parasite clearance times. The overall parasite clearance times were prolonged compared with the clearance times in a previous study at this site in 2006 to 2007, but this did not persist when the evaluation was limited to subjects with a comparable artesunate dose (4 mg/kg/day) and baseline parasitemia from the two studies. Reduced plasma drug levels with higher presentation parasitemias, previously hypothesized to result from partitioning into infected red blood cells, was not observed in this population with uncomplicated malaria. Neither in vitro parasite susceptibility nor plasma drug concentrations appeared to have a direct relationship with the pharmacodynamic (PD) effects of oral artesunate on malaria parasites. While direct concentration-effect relationships were not found, it remains possible that a population PK modeling approach that allows modeling of greater dose separation might discern more-subtle relationships.
Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinins, the first line treatment for malaria worldwide, has been reported in western Cambodia. Resistance is characterized by significantly delayed clearance of parasites following artemisinin treatment. Artemisinin resistance has not previously been reported in Myanmar, which has the highest falciparum malaria burden among Southeast Asian countries.
A non-randomized, single-arm, open-label clinical trial of artesunate monotherapy (4 mg/kg daily for seven days) was conducted in adults with acute blood-smear positive P. falciparum malaria in Kawthaung, southern Myanmar. Parasite density was measured every 12 hours until two consecutive negative smears were obtained. Participants were followed weekly at the study clinic for three additional weeks. Co-primary endpoints included parasite clearance time (the time required for complete clearance of initial parasitemia), parasite clearance half-life (the time required for parasitemia to decrease by 50% based on the linear portion of the parasite clearance slope), and detectable parasitemia 72 hours after commencement of artesunate treatment. Drug pharmacokinetics were measured to rule out delayed clearance due to suboptimal drug levels.
The median (range) parasite clearance half-life and time were 4.8 (2.1–9.7) and 60 (24–96) hours, respectively. The frequency distributions of parasite clearance half-life and time were bimodal, with very slow parasite clearance characteristic of the slowest-clearing Cambodian parasites (half-life longer than 6.2 hours) in approximately 1/3 of infections. Fourteen of 52 participants (26.9%) had a measurable parasitemia 72 hours after initiating artesunate treatment. Parasite clearance was not associated with drug pharmacokinetics.
A subset of P. falciparum infections in southern Myanmar displayed markedly delayed clearance following artemisinin treatment, suggesting either emergence of artemisinin resistance in southern Myanmar or spread to this location from its site of origin in western Cambodia. Resistance containment efforts are underway in Myanmar.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000896077
This study was conducted to correlate blood concentrations of lumefantrine with treatment outcome for patients with Plasmodium falciparum malaria when the drug was given without specific instructions for administration with food. Patients with P. falciparum malaria in the highly endemic state of Orissa, India, were enrolled during 2008 and followed-up for 28 days after admistration of artemether-lumefantrine for three days according to a World Health Organization protocol. Drug concentration in whole blood was determined by using blood spots placed on filter paper on day 7. The technology is suitable for field studies. One hundred percent of the patients had an adequate clinical and parasitological response. These results confirm the efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine in persons from poor tribal communities when given without specific instructions regarding co-administration with food, despite high inter-individual variability in blood concentrations of lumefantrine.
Recent reports indicate that first cases of genuine artemisinin resistance have already emerged along the Thai-Cambodian border. The main objective of this trial was to track the potential emergence of artemisinin resistance in Bangladesh, which in terms of drug resistance forms a gateway to the Indian subcontinent.
We conducted an open-label, randomized, controlled 42-day clinical trial in Southeastern Bangladesh to investigate the potential spread of clinical artemisinin resistance from Southeast Asia. A total of 126 uncomplicated falciparum malaria patients were randomized to one of 3 treatment arms (artesunate monotherapy with 2 or 4 mg/kg/day once daily or quinine plus doxycycline TID for 7 days). Only cases fulfilling a stringent set of criteria were considered as being artemisinin-resistant.
The 28-day and 42-day cure rates in the artesunate monotherapy (2 and 4 mg/kg) and quinine/doxycyline arms were 97.8% (95% confidence interval, CI: 87.8–99.8%), 100% (95% CI: 91.1–100%), and 100% (95% CI: 83.4–100%), respectively. One case of re-infection was seen in the artesunate high dose arm, and a single case of recrudescence was observed in the low dose group on day 26. No differences in median parasite and fever clearance times were found between the 2 artesunate arms (29.8 h and 17.9 h vs. 29.5 h and 19.1 h). Not a single case fulfilled our criteria of artemisinin resistance. Parasite clearance times were considerably shorter and ex vivo results indicate significantly higher susceptibility (50% inhibitory concentration for dihydroartemisinin was 1.10 nM; 95% CI: 0.95–1.28 nM) to artemisinins as compared to SE-Asia.
There is currently no indication that artemisinin resistance has reached Bangladesh. However, the fact that resistance has recently been reported from nearby Myanmar indicates an urgent need for close monitoring of artemisinin resistance in the region.
New treatment strategies are needed for artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria. This randomized trial shows that neither increasing nor splitting the standard once-daily artesunate dose reverses the markedly reduced parasite clearance rate in patients with artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria.
Background. The emergence of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinins on the Cambodian and Myanmar-Thai borders poses severe threats to malaria control. We investigated whether increasing or splitting the dose of the short-half-life drug artesunate improves parasite clearance in falciparum malaria in the 2 regions.
Methods. In Pailin, western Cambodia (from 2008 to 2010), and Wang Pha, northwestern Thailand (2009–2010), patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were randomized to oral artesunate 6 mg/kg/d as a once-daily or twice-daily dose for 7 days, or artesunate 8 mg/kg/d as a once-daily or twice-daily dose for 3 days, followed by mefloquine. Parasite clearance and recrudescence for up to 63 days of follow-up were assessed.
Results. A total of 159 patients were enrolled. Overall median (interquartile range [IQR]) parasitemia half-life (half-life) was 6.03 (4.89–7.28) hours in Pailin versus 3.42 (2.20–4.85) hours in Wang Pha (P = .0001). Splitting or increasing the artesunate dose did not shorten half-life in either site. Pharmacokinetic profiles of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin were similar between sites and did not correlate with half-life. Recrudescent infections occurred in 4 of 79 patients in Pailin and 5 of 80 in Wang Pha and was not different between treatment arms (P = .68).
Conclusions. Increasing the artesunate treatment dose up to 8 mg/kg/d or splitting the dose does not improve parasite clearance in either artemisinin resistant or more sensitive infections with P. falciparum.
Clinical Trials Registration. ISRCTN15351875.
artemisinins; drug resistance; Plasmodium falciparum; neutropenia; reticulocytopenia
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. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00493363, and Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN64835265.)
By 2009, there were worrying signs from western Cambodia that parasitological responses to artesunate-containing treatment regimens for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria were slower than elsewhere which suggested the emergence of artemisinin resistance. Vietnam shares a long land border with Cambodia with a large number of migrants crossing it on a daily basis. Therefore, there is an urgent need to investigate whether there is any evidence of a change in the parasitological response to the artemisinin derivatives in Vietnam.
From August 2010 to May 2011, a randomized controlled clinical trial in uncomplicated falciparum malaria was conducted to compare two doses of artesunate (AS) (2mg/kg/day versus 4 mg/kg/day for three days) followed by dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA-PPQ) and a control arm of DHA-PPQ. The goal was characterization of the current efficacy of artesunate in southern Vietnam. The primary endpoint of this study was the parasite clearance half-life; secondary endpoints included the parasite reduction ratios at 24 and 48 hours and the parasite clearance time.
166 patients were recruited into the study. The median parasite clearance half-lives were 3.54 (AS 2mg/kg), 2.72 (AS 4mg/kg), and 2.98 hours (DHA-PPQ) (p=0.19). The median parasite-reduction ratio at 24 hours was 48 in the AS 2mg/kg group compared with 212 and 113 in the other two groups, respectively (p=0.02). The proportions of patients with a parasite clearance time of >72 hours for AS 2mg/kg, AS 4mg/kg and DHA-PPQ were 27%, 27%, and 22%, respectively. Early treatment failure occurred in two (4%) and late clinical failure occurred in one (2%) of the 55 patients in the AS 2mg/kg group, as compared with none in the other two study arms. The PCR-corrected adequate clinical and parasitological response (APCR) rates in the three groups were 94%, 100%, and 100% (p=0.04).
This study demonstrated faster P. falciparum parasite clearance in southern Vietnam than in western Cambodia but slower clearance in comparison with historical data from Vietnam. Further studies to determine whether this represents the emergence of artemisinin resistance in this area are needed. Currently, the therapeutic response to DHA-PPQ remains satisfactory in southern Vietnam.
Plasmodium falciparum; Artesunate; Parasite clearance half-life; Parasite reduction ratio; Parasite clearance of >72 hours
Artemisinin-based combination therapies are the most effective drugs to treat Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Reduced sensitivity to artemisinin monotherapy, coupled with the emergence of parasite resistance to all partner drugs, threaten to place millions of patients at risk of inadequate treatment of malaria. Recognizing the significance and immediacy of this possibility, the Fogarty International Center and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the U.S. National Institutes of Health convened a conference in November 2010 to bring together the diverse array of stakeholders responding to the growing threat of artemisinin resistance, including scientists from malarious countries in peril. This conference encouraged and enabled experts to share their recent unpublished data from studies that may improve our understanding of artemisinin resistance. Conference sessions addressed research priorities to forestall artemisinin resistance and fostered collaborations between field- and laboratory-based researchers and international programs, with the aim of translating new scientific evidence into public health solutions. Inspired by this conference, this review summarizes novel findings and perspectives on artemisinin resistance, approaches for translating research data into relevant public health information, and opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration to combat artemisinin resistance.
We conducted an open-label, randomized clinical trial to assess parasite clearance times (PCT) and the efficacy of 4 mg/kg (group 1, n = 22) and 2 mg/kg (group 2, n = 22) of oral artesunate for three days followed by artemether-lumefantrine in patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria at Xepon Interdistrict Hospital, Savannakhet Province in southern Laos. Slides were read in duplicate. The overall mean (95% confidence interval; range) PCT in hours was 23.2 (21.2–25.3; 12–46) and 22.4 (20.3–24.5; 12–46) for the first and second microscopists, respectively (P = 0.57). Ten (23%) patients remained parasitemic on day 1 after treatment (4 [18%] in group 1 and 6 [27%] in group 2; P = 0.47). No patient had patent asexual parasitemia on the second and third days of treatment. The 42-day polymerase chain reaction–corrected cure rates were 100% in both treatment groups. Serious adverse events did not develop during or after treatment in any patients. In conclusion, no evidence of P. falciparum in vivo resistance to artesunate was found in southern Laos.
Chloroquine (CQ) is still the drug of choice for the treatment of vivax malaria in Ethiopia, whereas artemether-lumefantrine (AL) is for falciparum malaria. In this setting, clinical malaria cases are treated with AL. This necessitated the need to assess the effectiveness of AL for the treatment of Plasmodium vivax with CQ as a comparator. A total of 57 (80.3%) and 75 (85.2%) cases treated with CQ or AL, respectively, completed the study in an outpatient setting. At the end of the follow-up period of 28 days, a cumulative incidence of treatment failure of 7.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.9–18.9%) for CQ and 19% (95% CI = 11–31.6%) for AL was detected. CQ resistance was confirmed in three of five CQ treatment failures cases. The effectiveness of AL seems lower than CQ; however, the findings were not conclusive, because the AL evening doses were not supervised.
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.
An assessment of the correlation between anti-malarial treatment outcome and molecular markers would improve the early detection and monitoring of drug resistance by Plasmodium falciparum. The purpose of this systematic review was to determine the risk of treatment failure associated with specific polymorphisms in the parasite genome or gene copy number.
Clinical studies of non-severe malaria reporting on target genetic markers (SNPs for pfmdr1, pfcrt, dhfr, dhps, gene copy number for pfmdr1) providing complete information on inclusion criteria, outcome, follow up and genotyping, were included. Three investigators independently extracted data from articles. Results were stratified by gene, codon, drug and duration of follow-up. For each study and aggregate data the random effect odds ratio (OR) with 95%CIs was estimated and presented as Forest plots. An OR with a lower 95th confidence interval > 1 was considered consistent with a failure being associated to a given gene mutation.
92 studies were eligible among the selection from computerized search, with information on pfcrt (25/159 studies), pfmdr1 (29/236 studies), dhfr (18/373 studies), dhps (20/195 studies). The risk of therapeutic failure after chloroquine was increased by the presence of pfcrt K76T (Day 28, OR = 7.2 [95%CI: 4.5–11.5]), pfmdr1 N86Y was associated with both chloroquine (Day 28, OR = 1.8 [95%CI: 1.3–2.4]) and amodiaquine failures (OR = 5.4 [95%CI: 2.6–11.3, p < 0.001]). For sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine the dhfr single (S108N) (Day 28, OR = 3.5 [95%CI: 1.9–6.3]) and triple mutants (S108N, N51I, C59R) (Day 28, OR = 3.1 [95%CI: 2.0–4.9]) and dhfr-dhps quintuple mutants (Day 28, OR = 5.2 [95%CI: 3.2–8.8]) also increased the risk of treatment failure. Increased pfmdr1 copy number was correlated with treatment failure following mefloquine (OR = 8.6 [95%CI: 3.3–22.9]).
When applying the selection procedure for comparative analysis, few studies fulfilled all inclusion criteria compared to the large number of papers identified, but heterogeneity was limited. Genetic molecular markers were related to an increased risk of therapeutic failure. Guidelines are discussed and a checklist for further studies is proposed.
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.
The shelf lives of preserved antimalarial agent-predosed plates according to the type of wrapping and the temperature of storage were studied by measuring the 50% inhibitory concentrations of drug for Plasmodium falciparum 3D7. The shelf life of mefloquine was 8 weeks at 25°C; and those of artesunate, artemisinin, and dihydroartemisinin were a minimum of 24, 12, and 8 weeks, respectively, at 4°C.
Intrinsic resistance of Plasmodium falciparum is clearly a major determinant of the clinical failure of antimalarial drugs. However, complex interactions between the host, the parasite and the drug obscure the ability to define parasite drug resistance in vivo. The in vitro antimalarial drug susceptibility assay determines ex-vivo growth of parasite in the presence of serial drug concentrations and, thus, eliminates host effects, such as drug metabolism and immunity. Although the sensitivity of the parasite to various antimalarials provided by such a test provides an important indicator of intrinsic parasite susceptibility, there are fundamental methodological issues that undermine comparison of in vitro susceptibility both between laboratories and within a single laboratory over time. A network of laboratories is proposed that will agree on the basic parameters of the in vitro test and associated measures of quality control. The aim of the network would be to establish baseline values of sensitivity to commonly used antimalarial agents from key regions of the world, and create a global database, linked to clinical, molecular and pharmacology databases, to support active surveillance to monitor temporal trends in parasite susceptibility. Such a network would facilitate the rapid detection of strains with novel antimalarial resistance profiles and investigate suitable alternative treatments with retained efficacy.
The proliferation of antimalarial drug trials in the last ten years provides the opportunity to launch a concerted global surveillance effort to monitor antimalarial drug efficacy. The diversity of clinical study designs and analytical methods undermines the current ability to achieve this. The proposed World Antimalarial Resistance Network (WARN) aims to establish a comprehensive clinical database from which standardised estimates of antimalarial efficacy can be derived and monitored over time from diverse geographical and endemic regions. The emphasis of this initiative is on five key variables which define the therapeutic response. Ensuring that these data are collected at the individual patient level in a consistent format will facilitate better data management and analytical practices, and ensure that clinical data can be readily collated and made amenable for pooled analyses. Such an approach, if widely adopted will permit accurate and timely recognition of trends in drug efficacy. This will guide not only appropriate interventions to deal with established multidrug resistant strains of malaria, but also facilitate prompt action when new strains of drug resistant plasmodia first emerge. A comprehensive global database incorporating the key determinants of the clinical response with in vitro, molecular and pharmacokinetic parameters will bring together relevant data on host, drug and parasite factors that are fundamental contributors to treatment efficacy. This resource will help guide rational drug policies that optimize antimalarial drug use, in the hope that the emergence and spread of resistance to new drugs can be, if not prevented, at least delayed.