Evaluation of an In Vitro Assay System for Drug Susceptibility of Field Isolates of Plasmodium Falciparum from Southern Thailand

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  • Department of Immunology and Biochemistry, U.S. Army Medical Component, Armed Forces Research Institute of the Medical Sciences, Rajvithi Road, Bangkok, Thailand
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An in vitro assay system has been developed to evaluate the susceptibility of field isolates of Plasmodium falciparum to standard and new antimalarials. The assay used drugs which were serially diluted in the field and determined effective drug concentrations by quantitating schizont maturation after a variable incubation period. Based on the ID50 values, a series of isolates from Yala in southern Thailand were shown to be resistant to chloroquine (187 nM) but only moderately resistant to amodiaquine (23.7 nM), a structurally related 4-aminoquinoline. Five aminocarbinols were evaluated. The parasites were resistant to quinine (219 nM), but comparatively much more susceptible to mefloquine (9.04 nM), halofantrine (1.23 nM), and enpiroline (6.23 nM). The isolates were also relatively sensitive to WR 194,965 (9.04 nM). Two dihydrofolate reductase inhibitors (WR 99,210 and pyrimethamine) were tested. The isolates were comparatively sensitive to a dihydrotriazine, WR 99,210 (2.85 nM). The in vitro values for pyrimethamine (1,870 nM) were higher than the values for the other drugs tested, but were less than values from other regions of Thailand. As compared to a survey conducted in this region four years previously, values for chloroquine, pyrimethamine, amodiaquine, and mefloquine have remained relatively unchanged. However, there was a greater than 20-fold rise in the susceptibility values for quinine, suggesting the introduction of quinine-resistant isolates from eastern Thailand into southern Thailand during this period.