Stimulation of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytogenesis by conditioned medium from parasite cultures.

J L WilliamsDepartment of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799, USA.

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Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte development was examined in erythrocyte monolayer cultures prepared with Cell-Tak, a cell and tissue adhesive. The monolayers, which were stable for up to 10 days in culture, supported multiple cycles of asexual growth and the development of clusters of stage IV gametocytes. Small numbers of chicken erythrocytes incorporated into the monolayers served as internal reference standards for parasite counts. This permitted quantitative assessment of gametocyte formation under different culture conditions. Gametocyte formation was limited in monolayers grown in standard culture medium but it increased slightly in monolayers cocultured with suspensions of parasitized erythrocytes. The number of gametocytes increased significantly in monolayers grown in parasite-conditioned medium. In both cases the changes resulted from increased numbers of stage II and III gametocytes in the monolayers. These results suggest that parasite conditioned medium contains a factor(s) that stimulates sexual development.