A flow cytometry-based assay for measuring invasion of red blood cells by Plasmodium falciparum

Am J Hematol. 2010 Apr;85(4):234-7. doi: 10.1002/ajh.21642.


Variability in the ability of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum to invade human erythrocytes is postulated to be an important determinant of disease severity. Both the parasite multiplication rate and erythrocyte selectivity are important parameters that underlie such variable invasion. We have established a flow cytometry-based method for simultaneously calculating both the parasitemia and the number of multiply-infected erythrocytes. Staining with the DNA-specific dye SYBR Green I allows quantitation of parasite invasion at the ring stage of parasite development. We discuss in vitro and in vivo applications and limitations of this method in relation to the study of parasite invasion.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Erythrocytes / parasitology*
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology*
  • Microscopy / methods
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Parasitemia / diagnosis
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development
  • Plasmodium falciparum / pathogenicity*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / physiology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Organic Chemicals
  • SYBR Green I