Amodiaquine resistance in Plasmodium berghei is associated with PbCRT His95Pro mutation, loss of chloroquine, artemisinin and primaquine sensitivity, and high transcript levels of key transporters

Ndung'u L, Langat B, Magiri E, Ng'ang'a J, Irungu B, Nzila A, Kiboi D
Wellcome Open Res. 2017;2

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Background: The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum has evolved complex drug evasion mechanisms to all available antimalarials. To date, the combination of amodiaquine-artesunate is among the drug of choice for treatment of uncomplicated malaria. In this combination, a short acting, artesunate is partnered with long acting, amodiaquine for which resistance may emerge rapidly especially in high transmission settings. Here, we used a rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei ANKA as a surrogate of P. falciparum to investigate the mechanisms of amodiaquine resistance. Methods: We used serial technique to select amodiaquine resistance by submitting the parasites to continuous amodiaquine pressure. We then employed the 4-Day Suppressive Test to monitor emergence of resistance and determine the cross-resistance profiles. Finally, we genotyped the resistant parasite by PCR amplification, sequencing and relative quantitation of mRNA transcript of targeted genes. Results: Submission of P. berghei ANKA to amodiaquine pressure yielded resistant parasite within thirty-six passages. The effective dosage that reduced 90% of parasitaemia (ED 90) of sensitive line and resistant line were 4.29mg/kg and 19.13mg/kg, respectively. After freezing at -80 masculineC for one month, the resistant parasite remained stable with an ED 90 of 18.22mg/kg. Amodiaquine resistant parasites are also resistant to chloroquine (6fold), artemether (10fold), primaquine (5fold), piperaquine (2fold) and lumefantrine (3fold). Sequence analysis of Plasmodium berghei chloroquine resistant transporter revealed His95Pro mutation. No variation was identified in Plasmodium berghei multidrug resistance gene-1 (Pbmdr1), Plasmodium berghei deubiquitinating enzyme-1 or Plasmodium berghei Kelch13 domain nucleotide sequences. Amodiaquine resistance is also accompanied by high mRNA transcripts of key transporters; Pbmdr1, V-type/H+ pumping pyrophosphatase-2 and sodium hydrogen ion exchanger-1 and Ca (2+)/H (+) antiporter. Conclusions: Selection of amodiaquine resistance yielded stable "multidrug-resistant'' parasites and thus may be used to study common resistance mechanisms associated with other antimalarial drugs. Genome wide studies may elucidate other functionally important genes controlling AQ resistance in P. berghei.