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Volume 11 Supplement 1

Challenges in malaria research

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Plasmodium falciparum lacking histidine rich protein 2 and 3 genes in Colombia


Histidine rich protein 2 (HRP2) produced by Plasmodium falciparum is the target of most P. falciparum-detecting Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) as well as of P. falciparum in vitro drug susceptibility assays. Likewise histidine rich protein 3 (HRP3) is recognized to a minor proportion. Deletion of either pfhrp2 or pfhrp3 or both genes have been reported in P. falciparum parasites and can affect the RDT’s expected performance [1, 2].

Materials and methods

275 blood samples of P. falciparum collected on filter paper from 2003 to 2012 from seven malaria endemic localities in Colombia were evaluated. The presence of the pfhrp2 and pfhrp3 genes was tested by nested PCR amplification of two fragments of both genes. In addition flanking genes of pfhrp2/pfhrp3 genes were evaluated. All the samples were confirmed as P. falciparum mono-infection.


15/275 (5.5%) samples showed a lack of the pfhrp2 gene, all the samples come from the Amazon region. Preliminary results on pfhrp3 gene showed that 98/275 (35.6%) of the samples were lacking this gene. 14/31 (45.2%) of the samples from the Amazon region were lacking both genes. Samples lacking pfhrp2 and/or pfhrp3 genes were missing either one or both flanking genes.


The use of RDT’s based on the detection of HRP2 should be re-evaluated in the Amazon region due to the high level of parasites lacking the pfhrp2 gene (48.4%). Monitoring the spread of P. falciparum lacking pfhrp2/pfhrp3 genes should continue in South America.


  1. Gamboa D, Ho M, Bendezu J, Torres K, Chiodini P, Barnwell J, Incardona S, Perkins M, Bell D, McCarthy J, Cheng Q: A large proportion of P. falciparum isolates in the Amazon region of Peru lack pfhrp2 and pfhrp3: Implications for malaria rapid diagnostic tests. PLoS One. 2010, 5 (1): e8091-10.1371/journal.pone.0008091.

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We would like to acknowledge all the personnel involved in the collection of the samples and the Malaria branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the training in the molecular techniques applied in this study. This project was supported by the Administrative Department for Science, Technology and Innovation in Colombia (COLCIENCIAS). Grant 222951928929.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Dorado, E., Murillo, C. & Montenegro, M. Plasmodium falciparum lacking histidine rich protein 2 and 3 genes in Colombia. Malar J 11 (Suppl 1), P27 (2012).

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