Plasmodium vivax, the most widely distributed human malaria parasite, is restricted to reticulocytes, limiting its asexual proliferation. In recent years, cases of severe and high-level P. vivax parasitemia have been reported, challenging the assumption that all isolates are equally restricted. In this article, we analyze the reticulocyte preference of a large number of Indian P. vivax isolates. Our results show that P. vivax isolates significantly vary in their level of reticulocyte preference. In addition, by carefully staging the parasites, we find that P. vivax schizonts are largely missing in peripheral blood, with the presence of schizonts in circulation correlating with a high reticulocyte preference.
Keywords: Plasmodium vivax; asexual stage; reticulocyte preference.
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