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Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte density and infectivity in peripheral blood and skin tissue of naturally infected parasite carriers in Burkina Faso

Citation

Bousema, Teun et al. (2021), Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte density and infectivity in peripheral blood and skin tissue of naturally infected parasite carriers in Burkina Faso, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.g1jwstqmk

Abstract

Background

Plasmodium falciparum transmission depends on mature gametocytes that can be ingested by mosquitoes taking a blood meal on human skin. Although gametocyte skin sequestration has long been hypothesized as important contributor to efficient malaria transmission, this has never been formally tested.

Methods

In naturally infected gametocyte carriers from Burkina Faso, we assessed infectivity to mosquitoes by direct skin feeding and membrane feeding. We directly quantified male and female gametocytes and asexual parasites in finger-prick and venous blood samples, skin biopsy samples, and in of mosquitoes that fed on venous blood or directly on skin. Gametocytes were visualized in skin tissue with confocal microscopy.

Results

Although more mosquitoes became infected when feeding directly on skin then when feeding on venous blood (odds ratio, 2.01; 95% confidence interval, 1.21–3.33; P = .007), concentrations of gametocytes were not higher in the subdermal skin vasculature than in other blood compartments; only sparse gametocytes were observed in skin tissue.

Discussion

Our data strongly suggest that there is no significant skin sequestration of P. falciparum gametocytes. Gametocyte densities in peripheral blood are thus informative for predicting onward transmission potential to mosquitoes and can be used to target and monitor malaria elimination initiatives.

Methods

Primary data collection was performed in Burkina Faso in gametocyte carriers who participated in skin feeding and membrane feeding experiments. Infectivity was assessed; gametocytes were quantified in mosquito blood meals; skin biopsy samples were acquired and processed for microscopy following immunolabeling.

Funding

European Research Council, Award: ERC-2014-StG 639776

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Award: INDIE OPP1173572

National Institutes of Health, Award: R21AI117304-01A1

European Research Council, Award: 2014-StG 639776

Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, Award: 016.158.306