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J Infect Dis. 1997 Dec;176(6):1590-6.

Mutations in Plasmodium falciparum dihydrofolate reductase and dihydropteroate synthase and epidemiologic patterns of pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine use and resistance.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore 21201, USA.


To assess the relationship between mutations in Plasmodium falciparum dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) and dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS) and clinical pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine resistance, polymerase chain reaction surveys and analyses for new mutations were conducted in four countries with increasing levels of pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine resistance: Mali, Kenya, Malawi, and Bolivia. Prevalence of mutations at DHFR codon 108 and a new mutation at DHPS 540 correlated with increased pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine resistance (P < .05). Mutations at DHFR 51, DHFR 59, and DHPS 437 correlated with resistance without achieving statistical significance. Mutations at DHFR 164 and DHPS 581 were common in Bolivia, where pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine resistance is widespread, but absent in African sites. Two new DHFR mutations, a point mutation at codon 50 and an insert at codon 30, were found only in Bolivia. DHFR and DHPS mutations occur in a progressive, stepwise fashion. Identification of specific sets of mutations causing in vivo drug failure may lead to the development of molecular surveillance methods for pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine resistance.

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