Pyrimethamine/sulfadoxine combination in the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria: relation between dihydropteroate synthase/dihydrofolate reductase genotypes, sulfadoxine plasma levels, and treatment outcome.
Insaf KhalilCenter for Medical Parasitology, Institute of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. InsafK@hotmail.com
Several in vitro studies have shown the correlation between mutations in dhfr and dhps genes and resistance to pyrimethamine/sulfadoxine (PYR/SDX) combination, but the in vivo correlates of these mutations with PYR/ SDX efficacy have not been investigated fully. We assessed PYR/SDX efficacy in relation to the frequency of dhfr and dhps mutations in 37 Plasmodium falciparum isolates sampled before treatment. Plasma levels of SDX measured at days 0, 3, 7, and 14 ascertained drug absorption. Point mutations were detected only at codons 51 and 108 of dhfr and codon 436 of dhps. The frequency of dhfr 51/108 and dhps 436 mutations was 79% and 8%. The plasma levels of SDX indicated adequate drug absorption by all patients. The presence of Ile 51 and Asn 108 mutations among parasites that cleared after treatment indicates that these mutations alone are insufficient to cause in vivo resistance. In all recrudescent parasites, however, the presence of Ile 51/Asn 108 dhfr mutations was coupled with the dhps Ala 436. The findings suggest that the presence of Ile 51/Asn 108 dhfr mutations and Ala 436 dhps confers decreased susceptibility of P. falciparum to PYR/SDX in areas of low endemicity.