Molecular Correlates of High-Level Antifolate Resistance in Rwandan Children with Plasmodium falciparum Malaria
Karema C., Imwong M., Fanello CI., Stepniewska K., Uwimana A., Nakeesathit S., Dondorp A., Day NP., White NJ.
ABSTRACT Antifolate drugs have an important role in the treatment of malaria. Polymorphisms in the genes encoding the dihydrofolate reductase and dihydropteroate synthetase enzymes cause resistance to the antifol and sulfa drugs, respectively. Rwanda has the highest levels of antimalarial drug resistance in Africa. We correlated the efficacy of chlorproguanil-dapsone plus artesunate (CPG-DDS+A) and amodiaquine plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (AQ+SP) in children with uncomplicated malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum parasites with p fdhfr and p fdhps mutations, which are known to confer reduced drug susceptibility, in two areas of Rwanda. In the eastern province, where the cure rates were low, over 75% of isolates had three or more p fdhfr mutations and two or three p fdhps mutations and 11% had the p fdhfr 164-Leu polymorphism. In the western province, where the cure rates were significantly higher ( P < 0.001), the prevalence of multiple resistance mutations was lower and the p fdhfr I164L polymorphism was not found. The risk of treatment failure following the administration of AQ+SP more than doubled for each additional p fdhfr resistance mutation (odds ratio [OR] = 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.01 to 5.55; P = 0.048) and each p fdhps mutation (OR = 2.1; 95% CI = 1.21 to 3.54; P = 0.008). The risk of failure following CPG-DDS+A treatment was 2.2 times higher (95% CI = 1.34 to 3.7) for each additional p fdhfr mutation, whereas there was no association with mutations in the p fdhps gene ( P = 0.13). The p fdhfr 164-Leu polymorphism is prevalent in eastern Rwanda. Antimalarial treatments with currently available antifol-sulfa combinations are no longer effective in Rwanda because of high-level resistance.