Genetic fingerprints of parasites causing severe malaria in a setting of low transmission in Sudan.

01 Jan 2007
A-Elbasit IE, A-Elgadir TM, Elghazali G, Elbashir MI, Giha HA

In this study we intended to examine the extent of genetic diversity of Plasmodium falciparum parasites causing severe malaria (SM). For this purpose, 100 parasite isolates were obtained from patients with SM and uncomplicated malaria, from an area of low and unstable malaria transmission in Sudan. The diversity of infection (DOI) was estimated by relating the number of the different parasite genotypes that were detected to the total number of parasites that were genotyped (parasite population/subpopulation). We used different molecular markers individually (pfcrt-76, pfmr1-86, GLURP size and MSP2 family and size) and as a group to set a multilocus genetic profile for each parasite isolate. The DOI as estimated by MSP2 and GLURP was 0.553 and 0.435, respectively. However, combination of all four molecular markers (multilocus genetic profile) revealed a fingerprint pattern of genetic diversity with a DOI of 0.936, indicating that in SM infection, diversity is the rule and homogeny is the exception. Furthermore, our clinical data suggest that the virulence markers might also be more diverse than expected. In conclusion, the results are unexpected and overturn the assumption that parasites causing SM are a limited subpopulation of virulent parasites or of a clonal nature. However, it was more likely that there was a genetically unique parasite in each infection.