Molecular Assessment of Artemisinin Resistance Markers, Polymorphisms in the K13 Propeller, and a Multidrug-Resistance Gene in the Eastern and Western Border Areas of Myanmar

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Abstract

Background. As K13 propeller mutations have been recently reported to serve as molecular markers, assessment of K13 propeller polymorphisms in multidrug-resistant gene in isolates from Myanmar, especially the eastern and western border areas, is crucial if we are to understand the spread of artemisinin resistance.

Methods. A 3-day surveillance study was conducted in the eastern and western border areas in Myanmar, and K13 propeller and Plasmodium falciparum multidrug resistance-associated protein 1 (pfmrp1) mutations were analyzed.

Results. Among the 1761 suspected malaria cases screened, a total of 42 uncomplicated falciparum cases from the eastern border and 49 from the western border were subjected to 3 days of surveillance after artemether-lumefantrine treatment. No parasitemic case showing positivity on day 3 was noted from the western border, but 26.2% (11/42) of cases were positive in the eastern border. Although we found no marked difference in the prevalence of the pfmrp1 mutation in the eastern and western borders (36% vs 31%, respectively), K13 mutations were more frequent in the eastern border area (where the 3-day persistent cases were detected; 48% vs 14%). C580Y, M476I, A481V, N458Y, R539T, and R516Y accounted for 68.9% of all K13 mutations significantly associated with day 3 parasitaemia.

Conclusions. The K13 mutations were significantly associated with day 3 parasitaemia, emphasizing the importance of K13 surveillance. The low prevalence of K13 mutations and the absence of day 3 parasitaemic cases indicate that artemisinin resistance may not have spread to the western Myanmar border region. Although analysis of multiple K13 mutations is challenging, it should be done at various sentinel sites in Myanmar.

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