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.
In vitro drug susceptibility testing with the malaria parasite has been used to assess the antimalarial activities of new compounds and to monitor drug resistance in field isolates. We investigated the validity of a SYBR green I fluorescent-based assay under various culture conditions and compared the assay results to those of previously published histidine-rich protein II (HRPII) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) methods. Reference strains of Plasmodium falciparum were cultured in vitro by using standard conditions in complete medium with and without phenol red before they were dispensed into 96-well plates predosed with chloroquine, mefloquine, or quinine. Following incubation, the culture supernatants were divided and the 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) were determined by using a SYBR green I-based method and the HRPII capture ELISA method. There were no significant differences in IC50 values when phenol red was included in the medium. The IC50s and the IC90s of the antimalarials tested by both methods were similar or identical for each of the reference strains. Fresh clinical isolates of P. falciparum collected from imported cases of malaria in Lyon, France, were tested for in vitro resistance to chloroquine and mefloquine by using the validated SYBR green I and HRPII ELISA methods. The SYBR green I-based method was able to calculate IC50 and IC90 values similar or identical to those calculated by the HRPII assay with fresh clinical samples without removal of white blood cells. The SYBR green I-based method for determination of drug sensitivity levels produced results comparable to those produced by other methods, showing that this method can be used routinely to conduct surveillance for drug resistance in P. falciparum with fresh or cultured parasites.
Chloroquine remains the drug of choice for the treatment of vivax malaria in Thailand. Mixed infections of falciparum and vivax malaria are also common in South-East Asia. Laboratory confirmation of malaria species is not generally available. This study aimed to find alternative regimens for treating both malaria species by using falciparum antimalarial drugs. From June 2004 to May 2005, 98 patients with Plasmodium vivax were randomly treated with either artemether-lumefantrine (n = 47) or chloroquine (n = 51). Both treatments were followed by 15 mg of primaquine over 14 days. Adverse events and clinical and parasitological outcomes were recorded and revealed similar in both groups. The cure rate was 97.4% for the artemether-lumefantrine treated group and 100% for the chloroquine treated group. We concluded that the combination of artemether-lumefantrine and primaquine was well tolerated, as effective as chloroquine and primaquine, and can be an alternative regimen for treatment of vivax malaria especially in the event that a mixed infection of falciparum and vivax malaria could not be ruled out.
Plasmodium vivax; vivax malaria; chloroquine; artemether-lumefantrine; Thailand
A large investment is required to develop, license and deploy a new antimalarial drug. Too often, that investment has been rapidly devalued by the selection of parasite populations resistant to the drug action. To understand the mechanisms of selection, detailed information on the patterns of drug use in a variety of environments, and the geographic and temporal patterns of resistance is needed. Currently, there is no publically-accessible central database that contains information on the levels of resistance to antimalaria drugs.
This paper outlines the resources that are available and the steps that might be taken to create a dynamic, open access database that would include current and historical data on clinical efficacy, in vitro responses and molecular markers related to drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. The goal is to include historical and current data on resistance to commonly used drugs, like chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, and on the many combinations that are now being tested in different settings. The database will be accessible to all on the Web.
The information in such a database will inform optimal utilization of current drugs and sustain the longest possible therapeutic life of newly introduced drugs and combinations. The database will protect the valuable investment represented by the development and deployment of novel therapies for malaria.
We characterized the potent in vitro antimalarial activity and biologic assessment of 13 phospholipid polar head analogs on a comparative basis. There was a positive relationship between the abilities of the drugs to inhibit parasite growth in culture and their abilities to specifically inhibit phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes. Maximal activity of G25 was observed for the trophozoite stage of the 48-h erythrocytic cycle (50% inhibitory concentration, 0.75 nM), whereas the schizont and ring stages were 12- and 213-fold less susceptible. The compounds exerted a rapid nonreversible cytotoxic effect, with complete clearance of parasitemia after 5 h of contact with the mature stages. The compounds were highly specific against P. falciparum, with much lower toxicity against three other mammalian cell lines, and the in vitro therapeutic indices ranged from 300 to 2,500,000. Finally, the monoquaternary ammonium E10 and two bis-ammonium salts, G5 and G25, were similarly active against multiresistant strains and fresh isolates of P. falciparum. This impressive selective in vitro toxicity against P. falciparum strongly highlights the clinical potential of these quaternary ammonium salts for malarial chemotherapy.
The spread of chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum calls for a constant search for new drugs. The in vitro activity of piperaquine, a new Chinese synthetic drug belonging to the bisquinolines, was evaluated in 103 fresh clinical isolates of P. falciparum in Cameroon, Central Africa, and compared with that of other 4-aminoquinoline and Mannich base derivatives and dihydroartemisinin. Piperaquine was highly active (geometric mean 50% inhibitory concentration, 38.9 nmol/liter; range, 7.76 to 78.3 nmol/liter) and equally active (P > 0.05) against the chloroquine-sensitive and the chloroquine-resistant isolates. There was a significant but low correlation of response between chloroquine and piperaquine (r = 0.257, P < 0.05). These results suggest that further development of piperaquine, in combination with dihydroartemisinin, holds promise for use in chloroquine-resistant regions of endemicity.
The in vitro activities of pyronaridine, alone and in combination with established antimalarial drugs, were assessed by isotopic microtest. Pyronaridine was highly active against all Cameroonian isolates. A positive correlation was observed between the response to pyronaridine and that to chloroquine. Drug combination studies showed synergy between pyronaridine and primaquine, additive effects with 4-aminoquinolines, and weak antagonism with dihydroartemisinin, antifolates, or amino alcohols.
The short-term in vitro growth of Plasmodium falciparum parasites in the asexual erythrocytic stage and the in vitro activities of eight standard antimalarial drugs were assessed and compared by using RPMI 1640 medium supplemented with 10% nonimmune human serum, 10% autologous or homologous acute-phase serum, or 0.5% Albumax I (lipid-enriched bovine serum albumin). In general, parasite growth was maximal with autologous (or homologous) serum, followed by Albumax I and nonimmune serum. The 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) varied widely, depending on the serum or serum substitute. The comparison of IC50s between assays with autologous and nonimmune sera showed that monodesethylamodiaquine, halofantrine, pyrimethamine, and cycloguanil had similar IC50s. Although the IC50s of chloroquine, monodesethylamodiaquine, and dihydroartemisinin were similar with Albumax I and autologous sera, the IC50s of all test compounds obtained with Albumax I differed considerably from the corresponding values obtained with nonimmune serum. Our results suggest that Albumax I and autologous and homologous sera from symptomatic, malaria-infected patients may be useful alternative sources of serum for in vitro culture of P. falciparum isolates in the field. However, autologous sera and Albumax I do not seem to be suitable for the standardization of isotopic in vitro assays for all antimalarial drugs.
The in vitro antimalarial activity of the new Chinese synthetic drug, lumefantrine, also known as benflumetol (a fluorene derivative belonging to the aminoalcohol class), was determined by an isotopic microtest against 61 fresh clinical isolates of Plasmodium falciparum and compared with that of other established antimalarial agents. The geometric mean 50% inhibitory concentration of lumefantrine was 11.9 nmol/liter (95% confidence intervals, 10.4 to 13.6 nmol/liter; range, 3.3 to 25.6 nmol/liter). The in vitro activities of lumefantrine against the chloroquine-sensitive and the chloroquine-resistant isolates did not differ (P > 0.05). There was a significant positive correlation of responses between lumefantrine and two other aminoalcohols studied, mefloquine (r = 0.688) and halofantrine (r = 0.677), and between lumefantrine and artesunate (r = 0.420), suggesting a potential for in vitro cross-resistance. Our data suggest high in vitro activity of lumefantrine, comparable to that of mefloquine, and are in agreement with the promising results of preliminary clinical trials.
In vitro sulfadoxine and pyrimethamine resistance has been associated with point mutations in the dihydropteroate synthase and dihydrofolate reductase domains, respectively, but the in vivo relevance of these point mutations has not been well established. To analyze the correlation between genotype and phenotype, 10 Cameroonian adult patients were treated with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and followed up for 28 days. After losses to follow-up (n = 1) or elimination of DNA samples due to mixed parasite populations with pyrimethamine-sensitive and pyrimethamine-resistant profiles (n = 3), parasite genomic DNA from day 0 blood samples of six patients were analyzed by DNA sequencing. Three patients who were cured had isolates characterized by a wild-type or mutant dihydrofolate reductase gene (with one or two mutations) and a wild-type dihydropteroate synthase gene. Three other patients who failed to respond to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine treatment carried isolates with triple dihydrofolate reductase gene mutations and either a wild-type or a mutant dihydropteroate synthase gene. Three dihydrofolate reductase gene codons (51, 59, and 108) may be reliable genetic markers that can accurately predict the clinical outcome of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine treatment in Africa.
Three in vitro assays (the isotopic semimicrotest [700 μl per well; 24-well plates], the isotopic microtest [200 μl per well; 96-well plates], and the rapid in vitro test) and the standard in vivo test for chloroquine resistance were compared for 99 clinical isolates of Plasmodium falciparum obtained from symptomatic African patients. The 50% inhibitory concentrations determined by the two isotopic tests were similar and were highly correlated (r = 0.965; P < 0.05), showing a high concordance between the semimicrotest and the microtest. There was a moderate agreement between these two isotopic tests and the in vivo test. Most of the discordant results were probably due to host factors, including reinfections, pharmacokinetic variations, and immunologic response, which are eliminated in in vitro assays. The rapid in vitro test based on the inhibition of chloroquine efflux in the presence of verapamil was poorly concordant with the other tests. Despite some discordant results, isotopic in vitro assays are useful to characterize the phenotypes of individual isolates without the interference of host factors and are complementary to in vivo evaluation of drug efficacy. However, in vitro assays need to be standardized to allow direct comparison of results between different laboratories.