Blood-Stage Parasitaemia and Age Determine Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax Gametocytaemia in Papua New Guinea

Published: May 21, 2015


Koepfli C, Robinson LJ, Rarau P, Salib M, Sambale N, Wampfler R, Betuela I, Nuitragool W, Barry AE, Siba P, Felger I, Mueller I. Blood-Stage Parasitaemia and Age Determine Plasmodium falciparum and Pvivax Gametocytaemia in Papua New Guinea. PLoS ONE. 2015; 10(5), e0126747. doi:  1371/journal.pone.0126747


A better understanding of human-to-mosquito transmission is crucial to control malaria. In order to assess factors associated with gametocyte carriage, 2083 samples were collected in a cross-sectional survey in Papua New Guinea. Plasmodium species were detected by light microscopy and qPCR and gametocytes by detection of pfs25 and pvs25 mRNA transcripts by reverse-transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR). The parasite prevalence by PCR was 18.5% for Plasmodium falciparum and 13.0% for Pvivax. 52.5% of all infections were submicroscopic. Gametocytes were detected in 60% of Pfalciparum-positive and 51% of Pvivax-positive samples. Each 10-fold increase in parasite density led to a 1.8-fold and 3.3-fold increase in the odds of carrying Pfalciparum and Pvivax gametocytes. Thus the proportion of gametocyte positive and gametocyte densities was highest in young children carrying high asexual parasite densities and in symptomatic individuals. Dilution series of gametocytes allowed absolute quantification of gametocyte densities by qRT-PCR and showed that pvs25 expression is 10-20 fold lower than pfs25 expression. Between 2006 and 2010 parasite prevalence in the study site has decreased by half. 90% of the remaining infections were asymptomatic and likely constitute an important reservoir of transmission. However, mean gametocyte densities were low (approx. 1-2 gametocyte/μL) and it remains to be determined to what extent low-density gametocyte positive individuals are infective to mosquitos.