Stage-dependent effects of chloroquine on Plasmodium falciparum in vitro

J Protozool. 1983 Nov;30(4):642-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1550-7408.1983.tb05336.x.


The erythrocytic developmental cycle of Plasmodium falciparum can be conveniently divided into the ring, trophozoite, and schizont stages based on morphology and metabolism. Using highly synchronous cultures of P. falciparum, considerable variation was demonstrated among these stages in sensitivity to chloroquine. The effects of timed, sequential exposure to several clinically relevant concentrations of chloroquine were monitored by three techniques: morphological analysis, changes in the rate of glucose consumption, and changes in the incorporation of 3H-hypoxanthine into parasite nucleic acids. All three techniques gave essentially identical results. The trophozoite and schizont stages were considerably more sensitive to the drug than ring-stage parasites. Chloroquine sensitivity decreased as nuclear division neared completion. The increase in chloroquine sensitivity was coincident with a marked rise in the rate of glucose consumption and nucleic acid synthesis. The rate of nucleic acid synthesis decreased as schizogony progressed while glucose consumption continued at high rates during this process. The degree of chloroquine sensitivity was not highly correlated with either metabolic activity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chloroquine / pharmacology*
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hypoxanthine
  • Hypoxanthines / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism
  • RNA / biosynthesis


  • Hypoxanthines
  • Hypoxanthine
  • RNA
  • Chloroquine
  • DNA
  • Glucose