The A581G Mutation in the Gene Encoding Plasmodium falciparum Dihydropteroate Synthetase Reduces the Effectiveness of Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine Preventive Therapy in Malawian Pregnant Women
BACKGROUND: The A581 G: mutation in the gene encoding Plasmodium falciparum dihydropteroate synthase (dhps), in combination with the quintuple mutant involving mutations in both dhps and the gene encoding dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr), the so-called sextuple mutant, has been associated with increased placental inflammation and decreased infant birth weight among women receiving intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (IPTp-SP) during pregnancy.
METHODS: Between 2009 and 2011, delivering women without human immunodeficiency virus infection were enrolled in an observational study of IPTp-SP effectiveness in Malawi. Parasites were detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR); positive samples were sequenced to genotype the dhfr and dhps loci. The presence of K540 E: in dhps was used as a marker for the quintuple mutant.
RESULTS: Samples from 1809 women were analyzed by PCR; 220 (12%) were positive for P. falciparum. A total of 202 specimens were genotyped at codon 581 of dhps; 17 (8.4%) harbored the sextuple mutant. The sextuple mutant was associated with higher risks of patent infection in peripheral blood (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR], 2.76; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.82-4.18) and placental blood (aPR 3.28; 95% CI, 1.88-5.78) and higher parasite densities. Recent SP use was not associated with increased parasite densities or placental pathology overall and among women with parasites carrying dhps A581 G: .
CONCLUSIONS: IPTp-SP failed to inhibit parasite growth but did not exacerbate pathology among women infected with sextuple-mutant parasites. New interventions to prevent malaria during pregnancy are needed urgently.