Gametocyte Development and Carriage in Ghanaian Individuals with Uncomplicated Malaria.


gametocytes develop over 9-12 days while sequestered in deep tissues. On emergence into the bloodstream, they circulate for varied amounts of time during which certain host factors might influence their further development. We aimed to evaluate the potential association of patient clinical parameters with gametocyte development and carriage via in vivo methods. Seventy-two patients were enrolled from three hospitals in the Volta region of Ghana in 2016. Clinical parameters were documented for all patients, and gametocyte prevalence by microscopy was estimated at 12.5%. By measuring RNA transcripts representing two distinct gametocyte developmental stages using reverse transcriptase quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR), we obtained a more precise estimate of gametocyte carriage while also inferring gametocyte maturation. Fifty-three percent of the study participants harbored parasites expressing transcripts of the immature gametocyte-specific gene (), whereas 36% harbored RNA-positive parasites, which is enriched in mid and mature gametocytes, suggesting the presence of more immature stages. Linear logistic regression showed that patients older than 5 years but less than 16 years were more likely to carry gametocytes expressing both and compared with younger participants, and gametocytemia was more likely in mildly anemic individuals compared with those with severe/moderate anemia. These data provide further evidence that a greater number of malaria patients harbor gametocytes than typically estimated by microscopy and suggest a possible association between age, fever, anemia, and gametocytemia.