Malaria is an age-old disease of human kind living in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the globe, with Africa contributing the highest incidence of morbidity and mortality. Among many hurdles, evolution and spread of drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum parasites constitute major challenges to malaria control and elimination. Information on molecular epidemiology and pattern of evolution of genes conferring resistance to different antimalarials are needed to track the route of the spread of resistant parasites and also to inform if the drug-resistant genes are adapted in the population following the Darwinian model of evolution. In the present study, we have followed molecular methods to detect both the known and emerging mutations in three genes (Pfcrt, Pfdhfr and Pfdhps) of P. falciparum conferring resistance to chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine from two different states (Edo: meso-endemic and Lagos: hypo-endemic) in southwestern Nigeria. High diversities in haplotypes and nucleotides in genes responsible for chloroquine (Pfcrt) and sulfadoxine (Pfdhps) resistance are recorded. About 96% of Pfdhfr and Pfdhps gene in both the meso- and hypo- endemic areas were mutant type, followed by 61% in Pfcrt gene. Many unique haplotypes of Pfdhps and Pfcrt were found to be segregated in these two populations. One particular mutant haplotype of Pfdhfr (AIRNI) was found to be in very high frequency in both Lagos and Edo. While the net haplotype diversity was highest in Pfdhps (0.81 in Lagos, 0.87 in Edo), followed by Pfcrt (0.69 in Lagos, 0.65 in Edo); highest number of haplotype was found in Pfdhps with 13 distinct haplotypes, followed by seven in Pfcrt and four in Pfdhfr gene. Moreover, detection of strong linkage among mutations of Pfcrt and Pfdhfr and feeble evidence for balancing selection in Pfdhps are indicative of evolutionary potential of mutation in genes responsible for drug resistance in Nigerian populations of P. falciparum.
- Drug resistance
- Molecular epidemiology