Molecular evidence of greater selective pressure for drug resistance exerted by the long-acting antifolate Pyrimethamine/Sulfadoxine compared with the shorter-acting chlorproguanil/dapsone on Kenyan Plasmodium falciparum

Nzila AM, Nduati E, Mberu EK, Hopkins Sibley C, Monks SA, Winstanley PA, Watkins WM
J Infect Dis. 2000;181

Permenent descriptor

Pyrimethamine (PM) plus sulfadoxine (SD) is the last remaining affordable drug for treating uncomplicated malaria in Africa. The selective pressure exerted by the slowly eliminated combination PM/SD was compared with that exerted by the more rapidly eliminated combination chlorproguanil/dapsone (CPG/Dap) on Kenyan Plasmodium falciparum. Point mutations were analyzed in dihydrofolate reductase and dihydropteroate synthase and in the genetic diversity of 3 genes in isolates collected before and after CPG/Dap and PM/SD treatments. PM/SD was associated strongly with the disappearance of fully drug-sensitive parasites and with a significant increase in the prevalence of resistant parasites in subsequent parasitemias. However, this was not a characteristic of treatment with CPG/Dap. Moreover, most of the patients who returned with recrudescent infections were in the PM/SD-treated group. The data predict a longer useful therapeutic life for CPG/Dap than for PM/SD, and, thus, CPG/Dap is a preferable alternative for treatment of chloroquine-resistant falciparum malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.