Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 29932931
Acta Trop. 2018 Jun;185:363-370
Currently, the national malaria control programme (NMCP) of Sierra Leone recommends artesunate-amodiaquine (ASAQ) and artemether-lumefantrine (AL) as first- and second-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria, respectively, and artesunate + sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) for intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy and for infants. In 2016, the NMCP conducted a study to assess the clinical and parasitological responses of children under five years to ASAQ, AL and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA/PPQ) according to the WHO protocol. Day-0 samples were tested for mutations in the Kelch 13 gene (pfk13) and dihydrofolate reductase/dihydropteroate synthase (pfdhfr/pfdhps) genes associated with artemisinin and SP resistance, respectively, and amplification in the pfplasmepsin2 gene for piperaquine resistance. A total of 295 (ASAQ = 128, AL = 64 and DHA/PPQ = 103) eligible children were enrolled at three sites. PCR-corrected 100% adequate clinical and parasitological response and no parasitaemia on day-3 were observed for all patients in each treatment group. Of the 278 samples with interpretable molecular data, only 2.2% carried non-synonymous pfk13 mutants (A578S, I646T), which are not associated with artemisinin resistance. None of the 103 day-0 samples from the DAH/PPQ group had pfplasmepsin2 gene amplification, confirming the absence of piperaquine resistance. The prevalence of the triple pfdhfr mutant (N51I/C59R/S108N) was close to or reached fixation (97.4-100%). For combined pfdhfr/pfdhps mutation, 55-71% carried the quadruple (N51I/C59R/S108N+A437G) mutant and about 10% the quintuple mutant N51I/C59R/S108N+A437G/K540E. Our findings confirm that ASAQ, AL and DHA/PPQ were highly effective for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in the study areas, and neither pfk13 validated mutations nor pfplasmepsin2 multiple copies were found. The very low prevalence of the quintuple mutant in this study supports the NMCP’s decision to introduce intermittent preventive treatment for infants with SP in the districts with high malaria transmission.