Efficacy of dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine and artesunate monotherapy for the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Central Vietnam

Eduard Rovira-Vallbona, Nguyen Van Hong, Johanna H Kattenberg, Ro Mah Huan, Nguyen Thi Thu Hien, Nguyen Thi Hong Ngoc, Pieter Guetens, Nguyen Luong Hieu, Tran Tuyet Mai, Nguyen Thi Thuy Duong, Tran Thanh Duong, Bui Quang Phuc, Nguyen Xuan Xa, Annette Erhart, Anna Rosanas-Urgell

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BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) have significantly contributed to reduce Plasmodium falciparum malaria burden in Vietnam, but their efficacy is challenged by treatment failure of dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine ACT in Southern provinces.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the efficacy of dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine for uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in Gia Lai, Central Vietnam, and determine parasite resistance to artemisinin (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT02604966).

METHODS: Sixty patients received either dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine (4 mg/kg/day, 3 days; n = 33) or artesunate monotherapy (4 mg/kg/day, 3 days; n = 27) followed by dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine (AS + DHA/PPQ). Clinical phenotypes were determined during a 42 day follow-up and analysed together with ex vivo susceptibility to antimalarials and molecular markers of drug resistance.

RESULTS: Day 3 positivity rate was significantly higher in the AS + DHA/PPQ arm compared with dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine (70.4% versus 39.4%, P = 0.016). Parasite clearance time was 95.2 h (AS + DHA/PPQ) versus 71.9 h (dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine, P = 0.063) and parasite clearance half-life was 7.4 h (AS + DHA/PPQ) versus 7.0 h (dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine, P = 0.140). Adequate clinical and parasitological response at Day 42 was 100% in both arms. By RT-qPCR, 36% (19/53) patients remained positive until Day 7. No recurrences were detected. kelch13 artemisinin resistance mutations were found in 87% (39/45) of isolates and 50% (20/40) were KEL1/C580Y. The piperaquine resistance marker plasmepsin-2 was duplicated in 10.4% (5/48). Isolates from Day 3-positive patients (n = 18) had higher ex vivo survival rates to artemisinin compounds (P < 0.048) and prevalence of kelch13 mutations (P = 0.005) than Day 3-negative patients (n = 5). The WHO definition of artemisinin resistance was fulfilled in 60% (24/40) of cases.

CONCLUSIONS: Although dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine remained effective to treat P. falciparum, the high Day 3 positivity rate and prevalence of KEL1 strains calls for continuous monitoring of dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine efficacy in Central Vietnam.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdkaa172
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)2272-2281
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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