Plasmodium vivax: modern strategies to study a persistent parasite's life cycle.

Advances in parasitology

PubMedID: 23384620

Galinski MR, Meyer EV, Barnwell JW. Plasmodium vivax: modern strategies to study a persistent parasite's life cycle. Adv Parasitol. 2013;811-26.
Plasmodium vivax has unique attributes to support its survival in varying ecologies and climates. These include hypnozoite forms in the liver, an invasion preference for reticulocytes, caveola-vesicle complex structures in the infected erythrocyte membrane and rapidly forming and circulating gametocytes. These characteristics make this species very different from P. falciparum. Plasmodium cynomolgi and other related simian species have identical biology and can serve as informative models of P. vivax infections. Plasmodium vivax and its model parasites can be grown in non-human primates (NHP), and in short-term ex vivo cultures. For P. vivax, in the absence of in vitro culture systems, these models remain highly relevant side by side with human clinical studies. While post-genomic technologies allow for greater exploration of P. vivax-infected blood samples from humans, these come with restrictions. Two advantages of NHP models are that infections can be experimentally tailored to address hypotheses, including genetic manipulation. Also, systems biology approaches can capitalise on computational biology combined with set experimental infection periods and protocols, which may include multiple sampling times, different types of samples, and the broad use of "omics" technologies. Opportunities for research on vivax malaria are increasing with the use of existing and new methodological strategies in combination with modern technologies.