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Chloroquine increases Plasmodium falciparum gametocytogenesis in vitro

  • A. BUCKLING (a1), L. C. RANFORD-CARTWRIGHT (a1), A. MILES (a1) and A. F. READ (a1)


Malaria parasites are capable of modulating the diversion of resources from asexual growth to the production of stages infective to mosquitoes (gametocytes). Increased rates of gametocytogenesis appear to be a general response to stress, both naturally encountered and novel. We have previously reported earlier and greater gametocytogenesis in response to subcurative antimalarial chemotherapy in the rodent malaria, Plasmodium chabaudi, in vivo. Using an immunofluorescent assay to detect parasites that had invaded red blood cell monolayers, we demonstrate a 5-fold increase in gametocytogenesis in the human malaria, P. falciparum, in vitro, in response to treatment with the antimalarial drug chloroquine. In all clones used, gametocytogenesis increased with increasing inhibition of asexual growth by chloroquine. Furthermore, there were clone differences in the relationship between stress and gametocyte production, implying the response was genetically variable. This was not, however, associated with chloroquine resistance. The epidemiological significance of these results is discussed.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author: Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RB, UK. Tel: +44 1865 275079. Fax: +44 1865 275074. E-mail:



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