A systematic review and meta-analysis of evidence for correlation between molecular markers of parasite resistance and treatment outcome in falciparum

28 October 2009

from Malaria Journal:


An assessment of the correlation between anti-malarial treatment outcome and molecular markers would improve the early detection and monitoring of drug resistance by Plasmodium falciparum. The purpose of this systematic review was to determine the risk of treatment failure associated with specific polymorphisms in the parasite genome or gene copy number.


Clinical studies of non-severe malaria reporting on target genetic markers (SNPs for pfmdr1, pfcrt, dhfr, dhps, gene copy number for pfmdr1) providing complete information on inclusion criteria, outcome, follow up and genotyping, were included. Three investigators independently extracted data from articles. Results were stratified by gene, codon, drug and duration of follow-up. For each study and aggregate data the random effect odds ratio (OR) with 95%CIs was estimated and presented as Forest plots. An OR with a lower 95th confidence interval > 1 was considered consistent with a failure being associated to a given gene mutation.


92 studies were eligible among the selection from computerized search, with information on pfcrt (25/159 studies), pfmdr1 (29/236 studies), dhfr (18/373 studies), dhps (20/195 studies). The risk of therapeutic failure after chloroquine was increased by the presence of pfcrt K76T (Day 28, OR = 7.2 [95%CI: 4.5-11.5]), pfmdr1 N86Y was associated with both chloroquine (Day 28, OR = 1.8 [95%CI: 1.3-2.4]) and amodiaquine failures (OR = 5.4 [95%CI: 2.6-11.3, p < 0.001]). For sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine the dhfr single (S108N) (Day 28, OR = 3.5 [95%CI: 1.9-6.3]) and triple mutants (S108N, N51I, C59R) (Day 28, OR = 3.1 [95%CI: 2.0-4.9]) and dhfr-dhps quintuple mutants (Day 28, OR = 5.2 [95%CI: 3.2-8.8]) also increased the risk of treatment failure. Increased pfmdr1 copy number was correlated with treatment failure following mefloquine (OR = 8.6 [95%CI: 3.3-22.9]).


When applying the selection procedure for comparative analysis, few studies fulfilled all inclusion criteria compared to the large number of papers identified, but heterogeneity was limited. Genetic molecular markers were related to an increased risk of therapeutic failure. Guidelines are discussed and a checklist for further studies is proposed.