Two cases of long-lasting, sub-microscopic Plasmodium malariae infections in adults from coastal Tanzania.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Malaria is endemic in Tanzania with majority of clinical cases caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Additionally, Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium ovale spp. are also present and clinical manifestations caused by these infections are not well described. Clinical episodes caused by P. malariae infections are often characterized by a relatively mild illness with a low number of parasites, which can persist for long periods. In this report, two cases of P. malariae infections that were identified during a clinical trial evaluating the P. falciparum malaria vaccine candidate, PfSPZ Vaccine are described. The two participants were followed up and monitored for clinical and laboratory parameters to assess vaccine safety providing the opportunity to study clinical manifestations of P. malariae over 4 months. CASE PRESENTATION:Two young, healthy Tanzanian men infected with low density asexual blood stage P. malariae diagnosed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) are described. Retrospective analysis of collected and stored blood samples revealed that the two volunteers had constant asexual blood stage parasitaemia for more than 4 months. During the 132 days of infection, the volunteers' vital signs, body temperature and serum biochemistry all remained within normal ranges. Haematological abnormalities, which were transiently outside normal ranges, were regarded as not clinically significant. During this time period, four consecutive evaluations of blood samples by thick blood smear microscopy conducted by an experienced microscopist were all negative, indicating the presence of low-density sub-microscopic infections. CONCLUSIONS:The two cases of P. malariae infections presented here confirm the ability of this Plasmodium species to persist at low density in the human host for extended time periods without causing clinical symptoms. The presented data also demonstrate that clinical study sites in malaria endemic regions need to have a strong malaria diagnostic infrastructure, including the ability of capturing sub-microscopic parasitaemia and differentiation of Plasmodium species. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02613520, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02613520 , Registered: November 24th 2015, Enrolment of the first participant to the trial: December 15th 2015, Trial was registered before the first participant was enrolled.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The continuing morbidity and mortality associated with infection with malaria parasites highlights the urgent need for a vaccine. The efficacy of sub-unit vaccines tested in clinical trials in malaria-endemic areas has thus far been disappointing, sparking renewed interest in the whole parasite vaccine approach. We previously showed that a chemically attenuated whole parasite asexual blood-stage vaccine induced CD4+ T cell-dependent protection against challenge with homologous and heterologous parasites in rodent models of malaria. METHODS:In this current study, we evaluated the immunogenicity and safety of chemically attenuated asexual blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) parasites in eight malaria-naïve human volunteers. Study participants received a single dose of 3?×?107 Pf pRBC that had been treated in vitro with the cyclopropylpyrolloindole analogue, tafuramycin-A. RESULTS:We demonstrate that Pf asexual blood-stage parasites that are completely attenuated are immunogenic, safe and well tolerated in malaria-naïve volunteers. Following vaccination with a single dose, species and strain transcending Plasmodium-specific T cell responses were induced in recipients. This included induction of Plasmodium-specific lymphoproliferative responses, T cells secreting the parasiticidal cytokines, IFN-? and TNF, and CD3+CD45RO+ memory T cells. Pf-specific IgG was not detected. CONCLUSIONS:This is the first clinical study evaluating a whole parasite blood-stage malaria vaccine. Following administration of a single dose of completely attenuated Pf asexual blood-stage parasites, Plasmodium-specific T cell responses were induced while Pf-specific antibodies were not detected. These results support further evaluation of this chemically attenuated vaccine in humans. TRIAL REGISTRATION:Trial registration: ACTRN12614000228684 . Registered 4 March 2014.
Project description:The genomic diversity of Plasmodium malariae malaria parasites is understudied, partly because infected individuals tend to present with low parasite densities, leading to difficulties in obtaining sufficient parasite DNA for genome analysis. Selective whole genome amplification (SWGA) increases the relative levels of pathogen DNA in a clinical sample, but has not been adapted for P. malariae parasites. Here we design customized SWGA primers which successfully amplify P. malariae DNA extracted directly from unprocessed clinical blood samples obtained from patients with P. malariae-mono-infections from six countries, and further test the efficacy of SWGA on mixed infections with other Plasmodium spp. SWGA enables the successful whole genome sequencing of samples with low parasite density (i.e. one sample with a parasitaemia of 0.0064% resulted in 44% of the genome covered by???5 reads), leading to an average 14-fold increase in genome coverage when compared to unamplified samples. We identify a total of 868,476 genome-wide SNPs, of which 194,709 are unique across 18 high-quality isolates. After exclusion of the hypervariable subtelomeric regions, a high-quality core subset of 29,899 unique SNPs is defined. Population genetic analysis suggests that P. malariae parasites display clear geographical separation by continent. Further, SWGA successfully amplifies genetic regions of interest such as orthologs of P. falciparum drug resistance-associated loci (Pfdhfr, Pfdhps, Pfcrt, Pfk13 and Pfmdr1), and several non-synonymous SNPs were detected in these genes. In conclusion, we have established a robust SWGA approach that can assist whole genome sequencing of P. malariae, and thereby facilitate the implementation of much-needed large-scale multi-population genomic studies of this neglected malaria parasite. As demonstrated in other Plasmodia, such genetic diversity studies can provide insights into the biology underlying the disease and inform malaria surveillance and control measures.
Project description:Six Plasmodium species are known to naturally infect humans. Mixed species infections occur regularly but morphological discrimination by microscopy is difficult and multiplicity of infection (MOI) can only be evaluated by molecular methods. This study investigated the complexity of Plasmodium infections in patients treated for microscopically detected non-falciparum or mixed species malaria in Gabon.Ultra-deep sequencing of nucleus (18S rRNA), mitochondrion, and apicoplast encoded genes was used to evaluate Plasmodium species diversity and MOI in 46 symptomatic Gabonese patients with microscopically diagnosed non-falciparum or mixed species malaria.Deep sequencing revealed a large complexity of confections in patients with uncomplicated malaria, both on species and genotype levels. Mixed infections involved up to four parasite species (Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale curtisi, and P. ovale wallikeri). Multiple genotypes from each species were determined from the asexual 18S rRNA gene. 17 of 46 samples (37%) harboured multiple genotypes of at least one Plasmodium species. The number of genotypes per sample (MOI) was highest in P. malariae (n = 4), followed by P. ovale curtisi (n = 3), P. ovale wallikeri (n = 3), and P. falciparum (n = 2). The highest combined genotype complexity in samples that contained mixed-species infections was seven.Ultra-deep sequencing showed an unexpected breadth of Plasmodium species and within species diversity in clinical samples. MOI of P. ovale curtisi, P. ovale wallikeri and P. malariae infections were higher than anticipated and contribute significantly to the burden of malaria in Gabon.
Project description:Compared to expert malaria microscopy, malaria biomarkers such as Plasmodium falciparum histidine rich protein-2 (PfHRP-2), and PCR provide superior analytical sensitivity and specificity for quantifying malaria parasites infections. This study reports on parasite prevalence, sick visits parasite density and species composition by different diagnostic methods during a phase-I malaria vaccine trial.Blood samples for microscopy, PfHRP-2 and Plasmodium lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH) ELISAs and real time quantitative PCR (qPCR) were collected during scheduled (n = 298) or sick visits (n = 38) from 30 adults participating in a 112-day vaccine trial. The four methods were used to assess parasite prevalence, as well as parasite density over a 42-day period for patients with clinical episodes.During scheduled visits, qPCR (39.9%, N = 119) and PfHRP-2 ELISA (36.9%, N = 110) detected higher parasite prevalence than pLDH ELISA (16.8%, N = 50) and all methods were more sensitive than microscopy (13.4%, N = 40). All microscopically detected infections contained P. falciparum, as mono-infections (95%) or with P. malariae (5%). By qPCR, 102/119 infections were speciated. P. falciparum predominated either as monoinfections (71.6%), with P. malariae (8.8%), P. ovale (4.9%) or both (3.9%). P. malariae (6.9%) and P. ovale (1.0%) also occurred as co-infections (2.9%). As expected, higher prevalences were detected during sick visits, with prevalences of 65.8% (qPCR), 60.5% (PfHRP-2 ELISA), 21.1% (pLDH ELISA) and 31.6% (microscopy). PfHRP-2 showed biomass build-up that climaxed (1813±3410 ng/mL SD) at clinical episodes.PfHRP-2 ELISA and qPCR may be needed for accurately quantifying the malaria parasite burden. In addition, qPCR improves parasite speciation, whilst PfHRP-2 ELISA is a potential predictor for clinical disease caused by P. falciparum.ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00666380.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) is recommended as first-line treatment for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, whereas chloroquine is still commonly used for the treatment of non-falciparum species (Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium malariae). A more simplified, more uniform treatment approach across all malaria species is worthwhile to be considered both in endemic areas and for malaria as an imported condition alike. METHODS:A PROSPERO-registered systematic review to determine the efficacy and safety of ACT for the treatment of non-falciparum malaria was conducted, following PRISMA guidelines. Without language restrictions, Medline/PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, LILACS, Biosis Previews and the African Index Medicus were searched for studies published up to November 2014. RESULTS:The literature search identified 986 reports; 40 publications were found eligible for inclusion, all of them on non-falciparum malaria in endemic areas. Most evidence was available for P. vivax (n?=?35). Five clinical trials in total were identified evaluating ACT for P. ovale, P. malariae and Plasmodium knowlesi. Most ACT presentations have high efficacy against P. vivax parasites; artemisinin-based combinations have shorter parasite and fever clearance times compared to chloroquine. ACT is as effective as chloroquine in preventing recurrent parasitaemia before day 28. Artemisinin-based combinations with long half-lives show significantly fewer recurrent parasitaemia up to day 63. The limited evidence available supports both the use of chloroquine and an ACT for P. ovale and P. malariae. ACT seems to be preferable for optimal treatment of P. knowlesi. CONCLUSION:ACT is at least equivalent to chloroquine in effectively treating non-falciparum malaria. These findings may facilitate development of simplified protocols for treating all forms of malaria with ACT, including returning travellers. Obtaining comprehensive efficacy and safety data on ACT use for non-falciparum species particularly for P. ovale, P. malariae and P. knowlesi should be a research priority. TRIAL REGISTRATION:CRD42014009103.
Project description:The pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS02A has shown to confer protection against clinical malaria for at least 21 months in a trial in Mozambican children. Efficacy varied between different endpoints, such as parasitaemia or clinical malaria; however the underlying mechanisms that determine efficacy and its duration remain unknown. We performed a new, exploratory analysis to explore differences in the duration of protection among participants to better understand the protection afforded by RTS,S.The study was a Phase IIb double-blind, randomized controlled trial in 2022 children aged 1 to 4 years. The trial was designed with two cohorts to estimate vaccine efficacy against two different endpoints: clinical malaria (cohort 1) and infection (cohort 2). Participants were randomly allocated to receive three doses of RTS,S/AS02A or control vaccines. We did a retrospective, unplanned sub-analysis of cohort 2 data using information collected for safety through the health facility-based passive case detection system. Vaccine efficacy against clinical malaria was estimated over the first six-month surveillance period (double-blind phase) and over the following 12 months (single-blind phase), and analysis was per-protocol. Adjusted vaccine efficacy against first clinical malaria episodes in cohort 2 was of 35.4% (95% CI 4.5-56.3; p = 0.029) over the double-blind phase and of 9.0% (-30.6-36.6; p = 0.609) during the single-blind phase.Contrary to observations in cohort 1, where efficacy against clinical malaria did not wane over time, in cohort 2 the efficacy decreases with time. We hypothesize that this reduced duration of protection is a result of the early diagnosis and treatment of infections in cohort 2 participants, preventing sufficient exposure to asexual-stage antigens. On the other hand, the long-term protection against clinical disease observed in cohort 1 may be a consequence of a prolonged exposure to low-dose blood-stage asexual parasitaemia.ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00197041.
Project description:BACKGROUND: DNA-based diagnostic methods have been shown to be highly sensitive and specific for the detection of malaria. An 18S-rRNA-based, real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to determine the prevalence and intensity of Plasmodium infections on Flores Island, Indonesia. METHODS: Microscopy and real-time multiplex PCR for the detection of Plasmodium species was performed on blood samples collected in a population-based study in Nangapanda Flores Island, Indonesia. RESULTS: A total 1,509 blood samples were analysed. Real-time PCR revealed prevalence for Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, and Plasmodium malariae to be 14.5%, 13.2%, and 1.9% respectively. Sub-microscopic parasitaemia were found in more than 80% of all positive cases. The prevalence of P. falciparum and P. vivax was significantly higher in subjects younger than 20 years (p???0.01). In the present study, among non-symptomatic healthy individuals, anaemia was strongly correlated with the prevalence and load of P. falciparum infections (p???0.01; p?=?0.02) and with the load of P. vivax infections (p?=?0.01) as detected with real-time PCR. Subjects with AB blood group tend to have a higher risk of being infected with P. falciparum and P. vivax when compared to other blood groups. CONCLUSION: The present study has shown that real-time PCR provides more insight in the epidemiology of Plasmodium infections and can be used as a monitoring tool in the battle against malaria. The unsurpassed sensitivity of real-time PCR reveals that sub microscopic infections are common in this area, which are likely to play an important role in transmission and control. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Trials number ISRCTN83830814.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Malaria can be transmitted by blood transfusion from human to human and it is responsible for the majority of transfusion-transmitted infectious diseases worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, it had been estimated that almost a quarter of blood donations contain malaria parasites. Since rapid diagnostic tests and thick blood smear microscopy lack sensitivity for low density parasitaemia, particularly in asymptomatic adults, the most reliable method to assess the problem of transfusion-transmitted malaria are nucleic acid-based molecular approaches such as quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The study was undertaken to determine the prevalence of sub-microscopic malaria parasite infection among blood donors in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. METHODS:Between July and August 2017, a total of 200 individual blood samples from blood donors at the Malabo Blood Bank were collected and screened by rapid diagnostic tests and thick blood smear microscopy. Retrospectively, the same samples were analysed for the presence of undetected, low-density malaria parasites using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS:In comparison to 6.5% (13/200) by rapid diagnostic test and 2.0% (4/200) by microscopy, the proportion of Plasmodium falciparum positive blood donations analysed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction was significantly higher (26%, 52/200). Densities of P. falciparum positive blood donations were ranging from 0.06 to 3707.0 parasites/µL with 79.6% below 100 parasites/µL and therefore not detectable by non-molecular malaria diagnostic tests. qPCR based species identification revealed that P. falciparum was the dominating species responsible for 88.1% (52/59) of positive blood donations, followed by Plasmodium malariae (15.3%, 9/59) and Plasmodium ovale (3.4%, 2/59). CONCLUSIONS:This study confirms that in malaria endemic settings, sub-patent malaria infections among blood donors are prevalent. In blood collected from healthy donors living in Malabo, P. falciparum, P. malariae and P. ovale parasites were identified. Currently widely used malaria diagnostic tools have missed more than 75% of P. falciparum containing blood donations, demonstrating the value of quantitative polymerase chain reaction to reliably detect low density P. falciparum infections. Since the availability of molecular diagnostic methods in malaria endemic countries is still limited, the blood recipients living in malaria endemic countries should be treated following WHO recommendations.
Project description:Despite largely successful control efforts, malaria remains a significant public health problem in Thailand. Based on microscopy, the northwestern province of Tak, once Thailand's highest burden area, is now considered a low-transmission region. However, microscopy is insensitive to detect low-level parasitaemia, causing gross underestimation of parasite prevalence in areas where most infections are subpatent. The objective of this study was to assess the current epidemiology of malaria prevalence using molecular and serological detection methods, and to profile the antibody responses against Plasmodium as it relates to age, seasonal changes and clinical manifestations during infection. Three comprehensive cross-sectional surveys were performed in a sentinel village and from febrile hospital patients, and whole blood samples were collected from infants to elderly adults. Genomic DNA isolated from cellular fraction was screened by quantitative-PCR for the presence of Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium knowlesi. Plasma samples were probed on protein microarray to obtain antibody response profiles from the same individuals.Within the studied community, 90.2 % of Plasmodium infections were submicroscopic and asymptomatic, including a large number of mixed-species infections. Amongst febrile patients, mixed-species infections comprised 68 % of positive cases, all of which went misdiagnosed and undertreated. All samples tested showed serological reactivity to Plasmodium antigens. There were significant differences in the rates of antibody acquisition against P. falciparum and P. vivax, and age-related differences in species-specific immunodominance of response. Antibodies against Plasmodium increased along the ten-month study period. Febrile patients had stronger antibody responses than asymptomatic carriers.Despite a great decline in malaria prevalence, transmission is still ongoing at levels undetectable by traditional methods. As current surveillance methods focus on case management, malaria transmission in Thailand will not be interrupted if asymptomatic submicroscopic infections are not detected and treated.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The misdiagnosis of Plasmodium knowlesi by microscopy has prompted a re-evaluation of the geographic distribution, prevalence and pathogenesis of this species using molecular diagnostic tools. In this report, a specific probe for P. knowlesi, that can be used in a previously described TaqMan real-time PCR assay for detection of Plasmodium spp., and Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium ovale, was designed and validated against clinical samples. METHODS:A hydrolysis probe for a real-time PCR assay was designed to recognize a specific DNA sequence within the P. knowlesi small subunit ribosomal RNA gene. The sensitivity, linearity and specificity of the assay were determined using plasmids containing P. knowlesi DNA and genomic DNA of P. falciparum, P. knowlesi, P. malariae, P. ovale and P. vivax isolated from clinical samples. DNA samples of the simian malaria parasites Plasmodium cynomolgi and Plasmodium inui that can infect humans under experimental conditions were also examined together with human DNA samples. RESULTS:Analytical sensitivity of the P. knowlesi-specific assay was 10 copies/μL and quantitation was linear over a range of 10-106 copies. The sensitivity of the assay is equivalent to nested PCR and P. knowlesi DNA was detected from all 40 clinical P. knowlesi specimens, including one from a patient with a parasitaemia of three parasites/μL of blood. No cross-reactivity was observed with 67 Plasmodium DNA samples (31 P. falciparum, 23 P. vivax, six P. ovale, three P. malariae, one P. malariae/P. ovale, one P. falciparum/P. malariae, one P. inui and one P. cynomolgi) and four samples of human DNA. CONCLUSIONS:This test demonstrated excellent sensitivity and specificity, and adds P. knowlesi to the repertoire of Plasmodium targets for the clinical diagnosis of malaria by real-time PCR assays. Furthermore, quantitation of DNA copy number provides a useful advantage over other molecular assays to investigate the correlation between levels of infection and the spectrum of disease.