Five community-based cross-sectional surveys of malaria morbidity and associated risk factors in remote riverine populations in northwestern Brazil showed average parasite rates of 4.2% (thick-smear microscopy) and 14.4% (polymerase chain reaction [PCR]) in the overall population, with a spleen rate of 13.9% among children 2-9 years of age. Plasmodium vivax was 2.8 times more prevalent than P. falciparum, with rare instances of P. malariae and mixed-species infections confirmed by PCR; 9.6% of asymptomatic subjects had parasitemias detected by PCR. Low-grade parasitemia detected by PCR only was a risk factor for anemia, after controlling for age and other covariates. Although clinical and subclinical infections occurred in all age groups, the risk of infection and disease decreased significantly with increasing age, after adjustment for several covariates in multilevel logistic regression models. These findings suggest that the continuous exposure to hypo- or mesoendemic malaria may induce significant anti-parasite and anti-disease immunity in native Amazonians.
These results suggest that a possible interaction between human and simian malaria coming from a zoonotic cycle cannot be discarded because simians that live in the areas of the Atlantic Forest could play a role as a reservoir for Plasmodium.
BackgroundThe merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) gene encodes the major surface antigen of invasive forms of the Plasmodium erythrocytic stages and is considered a candidate vaccine antigen against malaria. Due to its polymorphisms, MSP1 is also useful for strain discrimination and consists of a good genetic marker. Sequence diversity in MSP1 has been analyzed in field isolates of three human parasites: P. falciparum, P. vivax, and P. ovale. However, the extent of variation in another human parasite, P. malariae, remains unknown. This parasite shows widespread, uneven distribution in tropical and subtropical regions throughout South America, Asia, and Africa. Interestingly, it is genetically indistinguishable from P. brasilianum, a parasite known to infect New World monkeys in Central and South America.MethodsSpecific fragments (1 to 5) covering 60 % of the MSP1 gene (mainly the putatively polymorphic regions), were amplified by PCR in isolates of P. malariae and P. brasilianum from different geographic origin and hosts. Sequencing of the PCR-amplified products or cloned PCR fragments was performed and the sequences were used to construct a phylogenetic tree by the maximum likelihood method. Data were computed to give insights into the evolutionary and phylogenetic relationships of these parasites.ResultsExcept for fragment 4, sequences from all other fragments consisted of unpublished sequences. The most polymorphic gene region was fragment 2, and in samples where this region lacks polymorphism, all other regions are also identical. The low variability of the P. malariae msp1 sequences of these isolates and the identification of the same haplotype in those collected many years apart at different locations is compatible with a low transmission rate. We also found greater diversity among P. brasilianum isolates compared with P. malariae ones. Lastly, the sequences were segregated according to their geographic origins and hosts, showing a strong genetic and geographic structure.ConclusionsOur data show that there is a low level of sequence diversity and a possible absence of allelic dimorphism of MSP1 in these parasites as opposed to other Plasmodium species. P. brasilianum strains apparently show greater divergence in comparison to P. malariae, thus P. malariae could derive from P. brasilianum, as it has been proposed.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12879-015-1238-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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