Volume 97, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Accurately identifying and targeting the human reservoir of malaria parasitemia is critical for malaria control, and requires a reliable and sensitive diagnostic method. Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) is increasingly used to diagnose submicroscopic parasitemia. Although most published studies report the sensitivity of LAMP compared with nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) as ≥ 80%, they have failed to use a consistent, sensitive diagnostic as a comparator. We used cross-sectional samples from children and adults in Tororo, Uganda, a region with high but declining transmission due to indoor residual spraying, to characterize the sensitivity and specificity of pan- LAMP for detecting submicroscopic infections. We compared LAMP results targeting a mitochondrial DNA sequence conserved in all species, performed on DNA extracted from dried blood spots, to those of a gold standard quantitative PCR assay targeting the gene acidic terminal sequence of (ATS qPCR), performed on DNA extracted from 200 µL of whole blood. Using LAMP and ATS qPCR increased the detection of parasitemia 2- to 5-fold, compared with microscopy. Among microscopy-negative samples, the sensitivity of LAMP was 81.5% for detecting infection ≥ 1 parasites/µL. However, low density infections were common, and LAMP failed to identify more than half of all infections diagnosed by ATS qPCR, performing with an overall sensitivity of 44.7% for detecting submicroscopic infections ≥ 0.01 parasites/µL. Thus, although the LAMP assay is more sensitive than microscopy, it missed a significant portion of the submicroscopic reservoir. These findings have important implications for malaria control, particularly in settings where low-density infections predominate.


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  • Received : 20 Mar 2017
  • Accepted : 31 May 2017
  • Published online : 09 Oct 2017

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