Plasmodium knowlesi is a malaria parasite of Old World monkeys and is infectious to humans. In this study Macaca fascicularis was used as a model to understand the host response to P. knowlesi using parasitological and haematological parameters. Three M. fascicularis of either sex were experimentally infected with P. knowlesi erythrocytic parasites from humans. The pre-patent period for P. knowlesi infection in M. fascicularis ranged from seven to 14 days. The parasitemia observed was 13,686-24,202 parasites per microL of blood for asexual stage and 88-264 parasites per microL of blood for sexual stage. Periodicity analysis adopted from microfilaria periodicity technique of asexual stage showed that the parasitemia peak at 17:39h while the sexual stage peaked at 02:36 h. Mathematical analysis of the data indicates that P. knowlesi gametocytes tend to display periodicity with a peak (24:00-06:00) that coincides with the peak biting activity (19:00-06:00) of the local vector, Anopheles latens. The morphology of P. knowlesi resembled P. falciparum in early trophozoite and P. malariae in late trophozoite. However, it may be distinguishable by observing the appliqué appearance of the cytoplasm and the chromatin lying inside the ring. Haematological analysis on macaques with knowlesi malaria showed clinical manifestations of hypoglycaemia, anaemia and hyperbilirubinemia. Gross examination of spleen and liver showed malaria pigments deposition in both organs.
The simian parasite Plasmodium knowlesi is a common cause of human malaria in Malaysian Borneo, with a particularly high incidence in Kudat, Sabah. Little is known however about the epidemiology in this substantially deforested region.
Human malaria parasite species were originally acquired from other primate hosts and subsequently became endemic, then spread throughout large parts of the world. A major zoonosis is now occurring with Plasmodium knowlesi from macaques in Southeast Asia, with a recent acceleration in numbers of reported cases particularly in Malaysia. To investigate the parasite population genetics, we developed sensitive and species-specific microsatellite genotyping protocols and applied these to analysis of samples from 10 sites covering a range of >1,600 km within which most cases have occurred. Genotypic analyses of 599 P. knowlesi infections (552 in humans and 47 in wild macaques) at 10 highly polymorphic loci provide radical new insights on the emergence. Parasites from sympatric long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) and pig-tailed macaques (M. nemestrina) were very highly differentiated (FST = 0.22, and K-means clustering confirmed two host-associated subpopulations). Approximately two thirds of human P. knowlesi infections were of the long-tailed macaque type (Cluster 1), and one third were of the pig-tailed-macaque type (Cluster 2), with relative proportions varying across the different sites. Among the samples from humans, there was significant indication of genetic isolation by geographical distance overall and within Cluster 1 alone. Across the different sites, the level of multi-locus linkage disequilibrium correlated with the degree of local admixture of the two different clusters. The widespread occurrence of both types of P. knowlesi in humans enhances the potential for parasite adaptation in this zoonotic system.
While Malaysia has had great success in controlling Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, notifications of Plasmodium malariae and the microscopically near-identical Plasmodium knowlesi increased substantially over the past decade. However, whether this represents microscopic misdiagnosis or increased recognition of P. knowlesi has remained uncertain.
Multilocus microsatellite genotyping of Plasmodium knowlesi isolates previously indicated 2 divergent parasite subpopulations in humans on the island of Borneo, each associated with a different macaque reservoir host species. Geographic divergence was also apparent, and independent sequence data have indicated particularly deep divergence between parasites from mainland Southeast Asia and Borneo. To resolve the overall population structure, multilocus microsatellite genotyping was conducted on a new sample of 182 P. knowlesi infections (obtained from 134 humans and 48 wild macaques) from diverse areas of Malaysia, first analyzed separately and then in combination with previous data. All analyses confirmed 2 divergent clusters of human cases in Malaysian Borneo, associated with long-tailed macaques and pig-tailed macaques, and a third cluster in humans and most macaques in peninsular Malaysia. High levels of pairwise divergence between each of these sympatric and allopatric subpopulations have implications for the epidemiology and control of this zoonotic species.
Transfusion-transmissible infections including HIV-1 continue to pose major risks for unsafe blood transfusions due to both window phase infections and divergent viruses that may not be detected by donor screening assays. Given the recent emergence of several HIV-1 circulating recombinant forms (CRFs) in high-risk populations in the Southeast Asia region, we investigated the genetic diversity of HIV-1 among the blood donors in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A total of 211 HIV-positive plasma samples detected among 730,188 donations to the National Blood Centre between 2013 and 2014 were provided (90.5% male, median age: 27.0 years old). Recent or long-term infection status at the time of donation was determined using a limiting antigen avidity enzyme immunoassay (LAg-Avidity EIA). HIV-1 gag-pol genes were amplified and sequenced from residual plasma for 149 cases followed by genotype determination using phylogenetic and recombination analyses. Transmitted antiretroviral resistance mutations were not observed among the blood donors, among which 22.7% were classified as recent or incident infections. Major circulating HIV-1 genotypes determined by neighbour-joining phylogenetic inference included CRF01_AE at 40.9% (61/149), CRF33_01B at 21.5% (32/149), and subtype B at 10.1% (15/149). Newly-described CRFs including CRF54_01B circulated at 4.0%, CRF74_01B at 2.0%, and CRF53_01B and CRF48_01B at 0.7% each. Interestingly, unique HIV-1 genotypes including African subtype G (8.7%), CRF45_cpx (1.3%), CRF02_AG (0.7%) and CRF07_BC (0.7%) from China were detected for the first time in the country. A cluster of subtype G sequences formed a distinct founder sub-lineage within the African strains. In addition, 8.7% (13/149) of HIV-infected donors had unique recombinant forms (URFs) including CRF01_AE/B' (4.7%), B'/C (2.7%) and B'/G (1.3%) recombinants. Detailed analysis identified similar recombinant structures with shared parental strains among the B'/C and B'/G URFs, some of which were sequenced from recently infected individuals, indicating the possible emergence and on-going spread of foreign clades of CRF candidates among the local population. The findings demonstrate extensive molecular complexity of HIV-1 among the infected blood donors in Malaysia, driven in part by the increased spread of recently described CRFs and multiple introductions of previously unreported genotypes from highly prevalent countries.