Main Article Content
Background: Over 80 countries worldwide have now implemented WHO recommendations to use Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapy as a first-line treatment for Plasmodium falciparum malaria. The sexual stage of P. falciparum is responsible for the transmission of malarial parasites to infectious mosquitoes. Studies on gametocytes are generally based on microscopic detection, which is not sensitive, and there is a need for more sensitive molecular techniques that can detect and quantify gametocytes at densities as low as 0.02 to 0.1 gametocytes per micro-litre. The objective of this study was to determine the clearance rates of gametocytes after AL and DHA&P in uncomplicated P. falciparum and to compare the effectiveness of microscopy and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction in gametocyte detection.
Methods: In a randomised controlled clinical trial of samples collected, gametocyte densities were quantified by microscopy by counting against 500 leukocytes in the thick smear converted to numbers of parasites per micro-litre by assuming a standard count of 800 leukocytes per micro-litre of blood after staining with 10% Giemsa stain and by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction using primers specific to the pfs25 gene.
Results: There was no significant difference between the drug’s gametocyte clearance (p<.082). The drugs cleared gametocytes in infected patients by day 28 as detected by microscopy. There was a significant difference in the detection of gametocytes by RT-PCR and microscopy (p<.001).
Conclusion: This study showed that Artemether-Lumefantrine and Dihydroartemisinin piperaquine have gametocytocidal effects on P. falciparum and the study on the clearance of gametocytes using both artemether-lumefantrine and Dihydroartemisinin piperaquine may be carried out using a larger sample size for policy implementation. The reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction is more effective than microscopy in detecting low levels of gametocytes and the pfs25 gene can be used in the detection of gametocytes in the field to monitor the clearance of gametocytes.