Print version ISSN 0120-4157
Introduction. The sexual stages of Plasmodium falciparum have not been studied in as much detail as the asexual stages due to the lack of standardized in vitro cultures as well as difficulties in identifying the sexual development stages of the parasite. These difficulties hamper the studies on biology, metabolism, gene expression and protein synthesis during sexual stages. Each of these facets are important targets in antimalarial drug research, particularly the identification of potential therapeutic agents against Plasmodium (derived mainly from plants). Objectives. An in vitro culture of P. falciparum gametocytes was established to standardize the identification of its five developmental stages and ensure their continuous production. Materials and methods. The in vitro gametocyte culture was established from the P. falciparum NF54 strain in RPMI culture medium, with assessment of the asexual and sexual parasitaemia. The medium was supplemented with type A Rh+ red blood cells only on the first day of culture. Subsequently, the medium was changed daily, together with addition of gas mixture (90% N2, 5% O2, 5% CO2) and maintenance of the culture temperature at 37 °C. When asexual parasitaemia reached 3 to 5%, the medium was changed by doubling its volume. Conclusions. We standardized an in vitro culture for sexual stages of P. falciparum that can be used for future studies about evaluation of compounds of synthetic or natural origen against the sexual stage, which may permit to develop new control strategies against malaria.
Keywords : Plasmodium falciparum; in vitro; malaria; Anopheles.