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J Infect Dis. 2002 Dec 15;186(12):1861-4. Epub 2002 Nov 15.

Mutations in dhfr in Plasmodium falciparum infections selected by chlorproguanil-dapsone treatment.

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London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.


Treatment with the novel antifolate drug combination chlorproguanil-dapsone effectively cleared asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum infections in 246 (93.5%) of 263 children in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania during the course of a 2-week follow-up. Samples from 71 recurrent infections, collected over a 9-week follow-up, showed selection for parasites with the triple mutant Ile(51)-Arg(59)-Asn(108) in dihydrofolate reductase. There was no selection for mutations in dihydropteroate synthetase, the target enzyme of dapsone. Search for complete identity in the highly polymorphic genes coding for merozoite surface proteins 1 and 2 in parasite samples collected before and after treatment indicated that the majority of recurrent parasitemias were new infections. These observations on selection in Tanzania and the lack of selection reported from a less endemic area suggest that the active metabolite of chlorproguanil, which has a short half-life in the blood, may persist in the liver, where it exerts selective pressure on growing preerythrocytic stages.

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