Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) has been used to treat uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum infections in India since 2004. Since 2008, a decrease in artemisinin effectiveness has been seen throughout the Greater Mekong Subregion. The geographic proximity and ecological similarities of northeastern India to Southeast Asia may differentially affect the long-term management and sustainability of ACT in India. In order to collect baseline data on variations in ACT sensitivity in Indian parasites, 12 P. falciparum isolates from northeast India and 10 isolates from southwest India were studied in vitro Ring-stage survival assay (RSA) showed reduced sensitivity to dihydroartemisinin in 50% of the samples collected in northeast India in 2014 and 2015. Two of the 10 assayed samples from the southwest region of India from as far back as 2012 also showed decreased sensitivity to artemisinin. In both these regions, kelch gene sequences were not predictive of reduced artemisinin sensitivity, as measured by RSA. The present data justify future investments in integrated approaches involving clinical follow-up studies, in vitro survival assays, and molecular markers for tracking potential changes in the effectiveness of artemisinin against P. falciparum throughout India.
Keywords: Indian Plasmodium falciparum; RSA; artemisinin sensitivity; kelch.
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