Plasmodium vivax: isotopic, PicoGreen, and microscopic assays for measuring chloroquine sensitivity in fresh and cryopreserved isolates

Exp Parasitol. 2006 Sep;114(1):34-9. doi: 10.1016/j.exppara.2006.02.006. Epub 2006 Mar 20.


In vitro susceptibility tests provide information on the intrinsic response of Plasmodium vivax to antimalarials, free from confounding factors such as host immunity or relapse. This study examined the utility of radioisotope and PicoGreen assays as alternatives to the traditional microscopic examination for assessing response of P. vivax to antimalarial drugs. There was no significant difference in the mean chloroquine IC(50) of P. vivax (n=40) as determined by the microscopic (33.4 ng/ml), isotopic (33.6 ng/ml), and PicoGreen (39.1 ng/ml) assays, respectively (F=0.239, df=2, 51, and p=0.788). However measurement of IC(50)s by the microscopic method was slightly more successful in producing valid assays (57%), compared to the isotopic (32.5%) and PicoGreen (45.5%) methods. In a paired comparison of 20 fresh and cryopreserved isolates as examined by the microscopic method, there were no significant differences between the mean IC(50) responses (T=1.58, df=15, and p=0.34). Detailed methodologies for the short time culture of field and cryopreserved P. vivax are described. Although the microscopic in vitro assay provides a useful method for characterizing the drug susceptibility phenotype of P. vivax isolates, its utility is limited by a laborious methodology and need for highly skilled microscopists. Future efforts should focus on further development of high throughput assays such as the PicoGreen assay as described in this study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / pharmacology*
  • Chloroquine / pharmacology*
  • Cryopreservation
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Freezing
  • Humans
  • Hypoxanthine
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Malaria, Vivax / parasitology*
  • Male
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Parasitic Sensitivity Tests / methods*
  • Plasmodium vivax / drug effects*
  • Plasmodium vivax / growth & development
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tritium


  • Antimalarials
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Organic Chemicals
  • PicoGreen
  • Tritium
  • Hypoxanthine
  • Chloroquine