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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2000 Apr;44(4):835-9.

Concentrations of chloroquine and malaria parasites in blood in Nigerian children.

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Institute of Tropical Medicine and Medical Faculty Charité, Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany.


Consumption of chloroquine (CQ) and subtherapeutic drug levels in blood are considered to be widespread in areas where malaria is endemic. A cross-sectional study was performed with 405 Nigerian children to assess factors associated with the presence of CQ in blood and to examine correlations of drug levels with malaria parasite species and densities. Infections with Plasmodium species and parasite densities were determined by microscopy and PCR assays. Whole-blood CQ concentrations were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography. Plasmodium falciparum, P. malariae, and P. ovale were observed in 80, 16, and 9% of the children, respectively, and CQ was detected in 52% of the children. CQ concentrations were >17 and <100 nmol/liter in 25% of the children, 100 to 499 nmol/liter in 14% of the children, and > or =500 nmol/liter in 13% of the children. Young age, attendance at health posts, and absence of parasitemia were factors independently associated with CQ in blood. With increasing concentrations of CQ, the prevalence of P. falciparum infection and parasite densities decreased. However, at concentrations corresponding to those usually attained during regular prophylaxis (> or =500 nmol/liter), 62% of children were still harboring P. falciparum parasites. In contrast, no infection with P. malariae and only one infection with P. ovale were observed in children with CQ concentrations of > or =100 nmol/liter. These data show the high prevalence of subcurative CQ concentrations in Nigerian children and confirm the considerable degree of CQ resistance in that country. Subtherapeutic drug levels are likely to further promote CQ resistance and may impair the development and maintenance of premunition in areas where malaria is endemic.

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