Mutations in Plasmodium falciparum dihydrofolate reductase and dihydropteroate synthase genes in Senegal


J. P. Daily (corresponding author) and D. F. Wirth, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA. E-mail:
D. Ndiaye, O. Ndir and O. Gaye, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar, Senegal.
O. Sarr and S. Mboup, Laboratory of Bacteriology and Virology, Dantec Hospital, Dakar, Senegal.


Senegal recently (2004) switched to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) with amodiaquine as first line therapy for malaria in response to increasing chloroquine resistance. In anticipation of emerging resistance to SP as a result of this change in drug pressure, we set out to define the baseline prevalence of SP-associated mutations in the dhfr and dhps genes in Plasmodium falciparum using geographically diverse and longitudinally collected samples. A total of 153 blood samples were analysed from patients (5 years or older) with mild malaria after informed consent was obtained. Longitudinal samples were collected between 2000 and 2003 in Pikine, a suburb of Dakar. Geographically diverse site sampling was carried out in 2003. The mutation prevalence in DHFR codons 51, 59 and 108 is 65%, 61% and 78% in Pikine, 2003. The overall prevalence of the triple mutation that is associated with high-level pyrimethamine resistance is 61%. The mutation prevalence rate in DHPS codons 436 and 437 is 21% and 40%, respectively. There is significant geographic variation in genotypic resistance, as samples from Pikine in 2003 had higher mutation prevalence in the pfdhfr and pfdhps genes compared to samples from Tambacounda (P < 0.015). In summary, this study demonstrates a high background prevalence of SP resistance mutations already present in P. falciparum in Senegal.