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BackgroundPlasmodium vivax occurs as a latent infection of liver and a patent infection of red blood cells. Radical cure requires both blood schizontocidal and hypnozoitocidal chemotherapies. The hypnozoitocidal therapies available are primaquine and tafenoquine, 8-aminoquinoline drugs that can provoke threatening acute hemolytic anemia in patients having an X-linked G6PD-deficiency. Heterozygous females may screen as G6PD-normal prior to radical cure and go on to experience hemolytic crisis.Methods & findingsThis study examined G6PD phenotypes in 1928 female subjects living in malarious Sumba Island in eastern Indonesia to ascertain the prevalence of females vulnerable to diagnostic misclassification as G6PD-normal. All 367 (19%) females having <80% G6PD normal activity were genotyped. Among those, 103 (28%) were G6PD wild type, 251 (68·4%) were heterozygous, three (0·8%) were compound heterozygotes, and ten (2·7%) were homozygous deficient. The variants Vanua Lava, Viangchan, Coimbra, Chatham, and Kaiping occurred among them. Below the 70% of normal G6PD activity threshold, just 18 (8%) were G6PD-normal and 214 (92%) were G6PD-deficient. Among the 31 females with <30% G6PD normal activity were all ten homozygotes, all three compound heterozygotes, and just 18 were heterozygotes (7% of those).ConclusionsIn this population, most G6PD heterozygosity in females occurred between 30% and 70% of normal (69·3%; 183/264). The prevalence of females at risk of G6PD misclassification as normal by qualitative screening was 9·5% (183/1928). Qualitative G6PD screening prior to 8-aminoquinoline therapies against P. vivax may leave one in ten females at risk of hemolytic crisis, which may be remedied by point-of-care quantitative tests.

Original publication





PLoS neglected tropical diseases

Publication Date





Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, Jakarta, Indonesia.


Humans, Plasmodium vivax, Malaria, Vivax, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Primaquine, Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase, Antimalarials, Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Child, Indonesia, Female, Young Adult, Latent Infection