Background: Artemisinin and its derivatives have been used for falciparum malaria treatment in China since late 1970s. Monotherapy and uncontrolled use of artemisinin drugs were common practices for a long period of time. In vitro tests showed that the susceptibility of Plasmodium falciparum to artemisinins was declining in China. A concern was raised about the resistance to artemisinins of falciparum malaria in the country. It has been reported that in vitro artemisinin resistance was associated with the S769N mutation in the PfATPase6 gene. The main purpose of this study was to investigate whether that mutation has occurred in field isolates from China.
Methods: Plasmodium falciparum field isolates were collected in 2006-2007 from Hainan and Yunnan provinces, China. A nested PCR-sequencing assay was developed to analyse the genotype of the PfATPase6 S769N polymorphism in the P. falciparum field isolates.
Results: The genotyping results of six samples could not be obtained due to failure of PCR amplification, but no S769N mutation was detected in any of the 95 samples successfully analysed.
Conclusion: The results indicate that the S769N mutation in the PfATPase6 gene is not present in China, suggesting that artemisinin resistance has not yet developed, but the situation needs to be watched very attentively.