Background: Artesunate-amodiaquine (ASAQ) and artemether-lumefantrine (AL) are the currently recommended first- and second-line therapies for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum infections in Equatorial Guinea. This study was designed to evaluate the efficacy of these artemisinin-based combinations and detect mutations in P. falciparum kelch13-propeller domain gene (Pfkelch13).
Methods: A single-arm prospective study evaluating the efficacy of ASAQ and AL at three sites: Malabo, Bata and Ebebiyin was conducted between August 2017 and July 2018. Febrile children aged six months to 10 years with confirmed uncomplicated P. falciparum infection and other inclusion criteria were sequentially enrolled first in ASAQ and then in AL at each site, and followed up for 28 days. Clinical and parasitological parameters were assessed. The primary endpoint was PCR-adjusted adequate clinical and parasitological response (ACPR). Samples on day-0 were analysed for mutations in Pfkelch13 gene.
Results: A total 264 and 226 patients were enrolled in the ASAQ and AL treatment groups, respectively. Based on per-protocol analysis, PCR-adjusted cure rates of 98.6% to 100% and 92.4% to 100% were observed in patients treated with ASAQ and AL, respectively. All study children in both treatment groups were free of parasitaemia by day-3. Of the 476 samples with interpretable results, only three samples carried non-synonymous Pfkelch13 mutations (E433D and A578S), and none of them is the known markers associated with artemisinin resistance.
Conclusion: The study confirmed high efficacy of ASAQ and AL for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum infections as well as the absence of delayed parasite clearance and Pfkelch13 mutations associated with artemisinin resistance. Continued monitoring of the efficacy of these artemisinin-based combinations, at least every two years, along with molecular markers associated with artemisinin and partner drug resistance is imperative to inform national malaria treatment policy and detect resistant parasites early. Trial registration ACTRN12617000456358, Registered 28 March 2017; http://www.anzctr.org.au/trial/MyTrial.aspx.
Keywords: Artemether–lumefantrine; Artesunate-amodiaquine; Efficacy; Equatorial Guinea; Plasmodium falciparum.