Spectrophotometric detection of susceptibility to anti-malarial drugs

Malar J. 2013 Aug 30:12:305. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-12-305.


Background: With malaria drug resistance increasing in prevalence and severity, new technologies are needed to aid and improve the accuracy and clinical relevance of laboratory or field testing for malaria drug resistance. This study presents a method based on simple and reagentless spectroscopic measurements coupled with comprehensive spectral interpretation analysis that provides valuable quantitative information on the morphological and compositional responses of Plasmodium falciparum and infected red blood cells (IRBCs) to anti-malarial treatment.

Methods: The changes in the size, internal structure, nucleotide and haemozoin composition of the parasites as well as the morphology (size and shape) and haemoglobin composition of the IRBCs treated with dihydroartemisinin (DHA) and mefloquine (MFQ) were investigated using a spectral interpretation analysis.

Results: DHA treatment reduced the sizes of the parasites and their structural organelles. The haemoglobin composition of the host IRBCs determined from spectroscopic analysis changed negligibly following DHA treatment. MFQ treated parasites grew to the same size as those from parallel non-treated cultures but lacked haemozoin. Lesser deformation of the cell shape and no haemoglobin depletion were detected for the IRBCs of MFQ treated cultures.

Conclusions: The spectroscopic analysis method proved to be sensitive for recognition of the effects of anti-malarial treatment on the structure and composition of the parasites and IRBCs. The method can have significant potential for research and clinical applications such as evaluating patient specimens for drug action, drug effects or for therapeutic monitoring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antimalarials / pharmacology*
  • Artemisinins / pharmacology
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Mefloquine / pharmacology
  • Parasitic Sensitivity Tests / methods
  • Plasmodium falciparum / chemistry
  • Plasmodium falciparum / cytology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects*
  • Spectrophotometry / methods*


  • Antimalarials
  • Artemisinins
  • Hemoglobins
  • artenimol
  • Mefloquine