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J Infect Dis. 2006 Apr 1;193(7):978-86. Epub 2006 Mar 1.

Geographic differences in antimalarial drug efficacy in Uganda are explained by differences in endemicity and not by known molecular markers of drug resistance.

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Department of Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California, San Francisco 94110, USA.



Recent clinical trials from Uganda have shown that the risk of failure following antimalarial therapy varies geographically. We tested the hypothesis that geographic differences in the response to therapy could be explained by differences in the prevalence of known molecular markers of drug resistance.


Samples from 2084 patients treated with chloroquine (CQ) plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) and amodiaquine (AQ) plus SP were tested for the presence of known molecular markers of resistance. Differences in the risk of treatment failure across 6 sites were compared, and age and complexity of infection were controlled for.


The prevalence of molecular markers of drug resistance was high at all of the sites: 61%-91% of patients were infected with parasites containing the pfcrt Thr-76 mutation and dhfr/dhps quintuple mutation. The risk of treatment failure decreased with increasing transmission intensity for both CQ plus SP (73% to 19%) and AQ plus SP (38% to 2%). Restricting the analyses to patients infected with parasites containing all 6 mutations of interest did not affect these trends.


The risk of treatment failure was inversely proportional to transmission intensity and was not explained by differences in molecular markers of antimalarial drug resistance. Our findings strongly suggest that geographic differences in response to antimalarial therapy in Uganda are primarily mediated by acquired immunity associated with malaria transmission intensity, rather than by parasite factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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