Pathogens 2020; 10(1)

An Ultra-Sensitive Technique: Using Pv-mtCOX1 qPCR to Detect Early Recurrences of Plasmodium vivax in Patients in the Brazilian Amazon.

Barbosa LRA, da Silva EL, de Almeida ACG, Salazar YEAR, Siqueira AM, Alecrim MDGC, Vieira JLF, Bassat Q, de Lacerda MVG, Monteiro WM, Melo GC
Early recurrence of Plasmodium vivax is a challenge for malaria control in the field, particularly because this species is associated with lower parasitemia, which hinders diagnosis and monitoring through blood smear testing. Early recurrences, defined as the persistence of parasites in the peripheral blood despite adequate drug dosages, may arise from resistance to chloroquine. The objective of the study was to estimate early recurrence of P. vivax in the Brazilian Amazon by using a highly-sensitive detection method, in this case, PCR. An ultra-sensitive qPCR that targeted mitochondrial DNA was used to compare a standard qPCR that targeted 18S rDNA to detect early recurrence of P. vivax in very low densities in samples from patients treated with chloroquine. Out of a total of 312 cases, 29 samples (9.3%) were characterized as recurrences, from which 3.2% (10/312) were only detected through ultra-sensitive qPCR testing. Studies that report the detection of P. vivax early recurrences using light microscopy may severely underestimate their true incidence.