Malaria morbidity and mortality have decreased gradually in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Presently, WHO sets a goal to eliminate malaria by 2030 in the GMS. However, drug-resistant malaria has been reported from several endemic areas. To achieve the goal of elimination, the status of the emergence and spread of drug resistance should be monitored. In this study, the genotype of the Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine (CQ) resistance transporter gene (pfcrt) and 6 microsatellite DNA loci flanking the gene were examined. P. falciparum isolates (n = 136) was collected from malaria patients in Thailand (n = 50, 2002-2005), Vietnam (n = 39, 2004), Laos (n = 15, 2007) and Cambodia (n = 32, 2009). Amino acid sequences at codons 72-76 on the gene were determined. All of the isolates from Thailand were CQ-resistant (CVIET), as were all of the isolates from Cambodia (CVIET, CVIDT). Thirteen of the 15 isolates (87%) from Laos were CQ-resistant (CVIET, CVIDT), whereas the other 2 (13%) were CQ-susceptible (CVMNK). In contrast, 27 of the 39 isolates (69%) from Vietnam were CQ-susceptible (CVMNK), whereas the other 12 (31%) were CQ-resistant (CVIET, CVIDT, CVMDT) or mixed (CVMNK/CVIDT). The mean of expected heterozygosity of the microsatellite loci was 0.444 in the Thai population, 0.482 in the Cambodian population, and 0.734 in the Vietnamese population. Genetic diversity in the Thai population was significantly lower than that in the Vietnamese population. These results suggested that chloroquine selective pressure on P. falciparum populations is heterogeneous in the GMS. Therefore, further examination to understand the mechanisms behind the emergence and spread of drug-resistant malaria are needed.
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