Volume 76, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Sexual stages of play a key role in the transmission of malaria. Studies on gametocytes are generally based on microscopic detection, but more sensitive detection methods for gametocytes frequently detect sub-patent gametocytes. We used Pfs25 mRNA quantitative-nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (QT-NASBA) to quantify gametocytes in 412 samples from a cross-sectional study in Burkina Faso, covering all age groups, to determine age-related patterns in gametocyte carriage and gametocyte density. The more sensitive QT-NASBA technique gave estimates of gametocyte prevalence 3.3-fold higher than microscopy (70.1% versus 21.4%, respectively). Prevalence of gametocytes significantly decreased with age. Our data suggest that asexual parasite densities are primarily responsible for the age-related decrease of gametocyte prevalence, possibly because of developing asexual stage immunity. Gametocyte densities decrease also with age, primarily because of decreasing asexual parasite densities; only a small but significant age effect on gametocyte density may be caused by developing sexual stage–specific immunity.


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  • Received : 31 Jul 2006
  • Accepted : 11 Jan 2007

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