BioMed Central, Malaria Journal, 1(13), p. 15
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Abstract Background The first phase of malaria infection occurs in the liver and is clinically silent. Inside hepatocytes each Plasmodium sporozoite replicate into thousands of erythrocyte-infectious merozoites that when released into the blood stream result in clinical symptoms of the disease. The time between sporozoite inoculation and the appearance of parasites in the blood is defined as the pre-patent period, which is classically analysed by time-consuming and labor-intensive techniques, such as microscopy and PCR. Methods Luciferase-expressing Plasmodium berghei parasites were used to measure pre-patent period of malaria infection in rodents using a bioluminescence assay that requires only one microliter of blood collected from the tail-vein. The accuracy and sensitivity of this new method was compared with conventional microscopy and PCR based techniques, and its capacity to measure the impact of anti-malarial interventions against the liver evaluated. Results The described method is very sensitive allowing the detection of parasites during the first cycles of blood stage replication. It accurately translates differences in liver load due to inoculation of different sporozoite doses as well as a result of treatment with different primaquine regimens. Conclusions A novel, simple, fast, and sensitive method to measure pre-patent period of malaria infection in rodents is described here. The sensitivity and accuracy of this new method is comparable to standard PCR and microscopy-based techniques, respectively.