• Efficacy of antimalarial treatment in Guinea: in vivo study of two artemisinin combination therapies in Dabola and molecular markers of resistance to sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine in N'Zérékoré.

      Bonnet, M; Roper, C; Félix, M; Coulibaly, L; Kankolongo, G M; Guthmann, J P; Epicentre, 8, Paris, France. maryline.bonnet@geneva.msf.org (BioMed Central, 2007)
      BACKGROUND: In the last five years, countries have been faced with changing their malaria treatment policy to an artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), many with no national data on which to base their decision. This is particularly true for a number of West African countries, including Guinea, where these studies were performed. Two studies were conducted in 2004/2005 in programmes supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres, when chloroquine was still national policy, but artesunate (AS)/sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) had been used in refugee camps for two years. METHODS: In Dabola (central Guinea), 220 children aged 6-59 months with falciparum malaria were randomized to receive either AS/amodiaquine (AQ) or AS/SP. In vivo efficacy was assessed following the 2003 World Health Organization guidelines. In a refugee camp in Laine (south of Guinea), where an in vivo study was not feasible due to the unstable context, a molecular genotyping study in 160 patients assessed the prevalence of mutations in the dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr) (codons 108, 51, 59) and dihydropteroate synthase (dhps) (codons 436, 437, 540) genes of Plasmodium falciparum, which have been associated with resistance to pyrimethamine and sulphadoxine, respectively. RESULTS: In Dabola, after 28 days of follow-up, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-adjusted failure rates were 1.0% (95%CI 0-5.3) for AS/AQ and 1.0% (95%CI 0-5.5) for AS/SP. In the refugee camp in Laine, the molecular genotyping study found three dhfr mutations in 85.6% (95%CI 79.2-90.7) patients and quintuple dhfr/dhps mutations in 9.6% (95%CI 5.2-15.9). CONCLUSION: Both AS/AQ and AS/SP are highly efficacious in Dabola, whereas there is molecular evidence of established SP resistance in Laine. This supports the choice of the national programme of Guinea to adopt AS/AQ as first line antimalarial treatment. The results highlight the difficulties faced by control programmes, which have gone through the upheaval of implementing ACTs, but cannot predict how long their therapeutic life will be, especially in countries which have chosen drugs also available as monotherapies.
    • Malaria in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan: baseline genotypic resistance and efficacy of the artesunate plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and artesunate plus amodiaquine combinations.

      Hamour, S; Melaku, Y; Keus, K; Wambugu, J; Atkin, S; Montgomery, J; Ford, N; Hook, C; Checchi, F; Médecins Sans Frontières, Plantage Middenlaan 14, 1018 DD Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (Elsevier, 2005-07)
      Both northern and southern Sudan are deploying artemisinin-based combinations against uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria (artesunate+sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine [AS+SP] in the north, artesunate+amodiaquine [AS+AQ] in the south). In 2003, we tested the efficacy of 3 day AS+SP and AS+AQ regimens in vivo in the isolated, seasonally endemic Nuba Mountains region (the first study of AS combinations in southern Sudan). We also analysed pre-treatment blood samples for mutations at the P. falciparum chloroquine transporter (Pfcrt) gene (associated with CQ resistance), and at the dihydrofolate reductase (Dhfr) gene (associated with pyrimethamine resistance). Among 161 randomized children under 5 years, PCR-corrected cure rates after 28 days were 91.2% (52/57, 95% CI 80.7-97.1) for AS+SP and 92.7% (51/55, 95% CI 82.4-98.0) for AS+AQ, with equally rapid parasite and fever clearance. The Pfcrt K76T mutation occurred in 90.0% (144/160) of infections, suggesting CQ would work poorly in this region. Overall, 82.5% (132/160) carried mutations at Dhfr (N51I, C59R or S108N, but not I164L), but triple mutants (more predictive of in vivo SP failure) were rare (3.1%). CQ use should be rapidly discontinued in this region. SP resistance may propagate rapidly, and AS+AQ is likely to be a better long-term option, provided AQ use is limited to the combination.
    • Selection strength and hitchhiking around two anti-malarial resistance genes.

      Nash, D; Nair, S; Mayxay, M; Newton, P N; Guthmann, J P; Nosten, F; Anderson, T J C; Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR), San Antonio, TX 78245, USA. (2005-06-07)
      Neutral mutations may hitchhike to high frequency when they are situated close to sites under positive selection, generating local reductions in genetic diversity. This process is thought to be an important determinant of levels of genomic variation in natural populations. The size of genome regions affected by genetic hitchhiking is expected to be dependent on the strength of selection, but there is little empirical data supporting this prediction. Here, we compare microsatellite variation around two drug resistance genes (chloroquine resistance transporter (pfcrt), chromosome 7, and dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr), chromosome 4) in malaria parasite populations exposed to strong (Thailand) or weak selection (Laos) by anti-malarial drugs. In each population, we examined the point mutations underlying resistance and length variation at 22 (chromosome 4) or 25 (chromosome 7) microsatellite markers across these chromosomes. All parasites from Thailand carried the K76T mutation in pfcrt conferring resistance to chloroquine (CQ) and 2-4 mutations in dhfr conferring resistance to pyrimethamine. By contrast, we found both wild-type and resistant alleles at both genes in Laos. There were dramatic differences in the extent of hitchhiking in the two countries. The size of genome regions affected was smaller in Laos than in Thailand. We observed significant reduction in variation relative to sensitive parasites for 34-64 kb (2-4 cM) in Laos on chromosome 4, compared with 98-137 kb (6-8 cM) in Thailand. Similarly, on chromosome 7, we observed reduced variation for 34-69 kb (2-4 cM) around pfcrt in Laos, but for 195-268 kb (11-16 cM) in Thailand. Reduction in genetic variation was also less extreme in Laos than in Thailand. Most loci were monomorphic in a 12 kb region surrounding both genes on resistant chromosomes from Thailand, whereas in Laos, even loci immediately proximal to selective sites showed some variation on resistant chromosomes. Finally, linkage disequilibrium (LD) decayed more rapidly around resistant pfcrt and dhfr alleles from Laos than from Thailand. These results demonstrate that different realizations of the same selective sweeps may vary considerably in size and shape, in a manner broadly consistent with selection history. From a practical perspective, genomic regions containing resistance genes may be most effectively located by genome-wide association in populations exposed to strong drug selection. However, the lower levels of LD surrounding resistance alleles in populations under weak selection may simplify identification of functional mutations.
    • Short Report: Molecular Markers Associated with Plasmodium Falciparum Resistance to Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

      Cohuet, S; Bonnet, M; Van Herp, M; Van Overmeir, C; D'Alessandro, U; Guthmann, J P P; Epicentre, Paris, France; Médecins Sans Frontières, Brussels, Belgium; Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium. (2006-07)
      Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) is the first line antimalarial treatment in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Using polymerase chain reaction, we assessed the prevalence of mutations in the dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr) (codons 108, 51, 59) and dihydropteroate synthase (dhps) (codons 437, 540) genes of Plasmodium falciparum, which have been associated with resistance to pyrimethamine and sulfadoxine, respectively. Four hundred seventy-four patients were sampled in Kilwa (N = 138), Kisangani (N = 112), Boende (N = 106), and Basankusu (N = 118). The proportion of triple mutations dhfr varied between sites but was always > 50%. The proportion of dhps double mutations was < 20%, with some sites as low as 0.9%. A quintuple mutation was present in 12.8% (16/125) samples in Kilwa; 11.9% (13/109) in Kisangani, 2.9% (3/102) in Boende, and 0.9% (1/112) in Basankusu. These results suggest high resistance to pyrimethamine alone or combined with sulfadoxine. Adding artesunate to SP does not seem a valid alternative to the current monotherapy.
    • Short report: molecular markers associated with Plasmodium falciparum resistance to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

      Cohuet, S; Bonnet, M; Van Herp, M; Van Overmeir, C; D'Alessandro, U; Guthmann, J P; Epicentre, Paris, France; Médecins Sans Frontières, Brussels, Belgium; Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium. (2006-07)
      Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) is the first line antimalarial treatment in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Using polymerase chain reaction, we assessed the prevalence of mutations in the dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr) (codons 108, 51, 59) and dihydropteroate synthase (dhps) (codons 437, 540) genes of Plasmodium falciparum, which have been associated with resistance to pyrimethamine and sulfadoxine, respectively. Four hundred seventy-four patients were sampled in Kilwa (N = 138), Kisangani (N = 112), Boende (N = 106), and Basankusu (N = 118). The proportion of triple mutations dhfr varied between sites but was always > 50%. The proportion of dhps double mutations was < 20%, with some sites as low as 0.9%. A quintuple mutation was present in 12.8% (16/125) samples in Kilwa; 11.9% (13/109) in Kisangani, 2.9% (3/102) in Boende, and 0.9% (1/112) in Basankusu. These results suggest high resistance to pyrimethamine alone or combined with sulfadoxine. Adding artesunate to SP does not seem a valid alternative to the current monotherapy.