Synchronization of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes using an automated suspension culture system

Parasitology. 1986 Oct;93 ( Pt 2):263-74. doi: 10.1017/s003118200005143x.


An automated suspension culture system for the cultivation of Plasmodium falciparum is described which retains a degree of flexibility which is absent in other automated culture apparatuses. Not only does this system of cultivation promote rapid multiplication of asexual parasites but also permits the development and maturation of gametocytes. Using a combination of gelatin flotation and N-acetyl glucosamine treatment synchronous development of gametocytes was achieved. The total time for gametocyte maturation in vitro under the conditions provided was 7 days. Stages II and V required 48 h for development whilst I, III and IV needed 24 h each. Mature microgametocytes were relatively long lived in comparison with macrogametocytes. Electron microscopic study of the synchronized stages confirmed the observations of Sinden (1982) but, in addition, we noted the presence of Garnham bodies, a cytostome in all stages and dense spherules in stages I-III similar to the fenestrated buttons in sporozoites and exoerythrocytic forms. The relationship between the number of osmiophilic bodies in the mature gametocytes and their ability to escape from the red cell is reaffirmed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Parasitology / instrumentation
  • Parasitology / methods
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / ultrastructure