Optimal Concentration of P-Aminobenzoic Acid and Folic Acid in the in Vitro Assay of Antifolates against Plasmodium falciparum

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  • Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Bangkok 10400, Thailand

In vitro tests for Plasmodium falciparum sensitivity to pyrimethamine, sulfadoxine, and both drugs in combination were performed in four kinds of culture medium, each differing in p-amino benzoic acid (PABA) and folic acid concentrations. Results of the tests using pyrimethamine-sensitive and pyrimethamine-resistant isolates indicated that drug activity was reduced proportionally to the concentrations of these two growth factors in the medium. The optimal concentrations of PABA and folic acid for parasite growth and drug susceptibility, as evaluated by microscopic examination and by the extent of incorporation of radioactive 14C-pyrimethamine and 14C-sulfadoxine, were 10 ng/ml and 2 ng/ml, respectively. Depletion of PABA and folic acid from the medium had no effect on drug-resistant parasites but multiplication of drug-sensitive isolates was markedly reduced. Medium containing 0.5 ng/ml PABA and 10 ng/ml folic acid was the best for parasite growth regardless of the degree of drug sensitivity. Results obtained by using this medium agreed most closely with results from in vivo observations.