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Malaria journal

Flow cytometric readout based on Mitotracker Red CMXRos staining of live asexual blood stage malarial parasites reliably assesses antibody dependent cellular inhibition.


PMID 22818754

Abstract

Functional in vitro assays could provide insights into the efficacy of malaria vaccine candidates. For estimating the anti-parasite effect induced by a vaccine candidate, an accurate determination of live parasite count is an essential component of most in vitro bioassays. Although traditionally parasites are counted microscopically, a faster, more accurate and less subjective method for counting parasites is desirable. In this study mitochondrial dye (Mitotracker Red CMXRos) was used for obtaining reliable live parasite counts through flow cytometry. Both asynchronous and tightly synchronized asexual blood stage cultures of Plasmodium falciparum were stained with CMXRos and subjected to detection by flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy. The parasite counts obtained by flow cytometry were compared to standard microscopic counts obtained through examination of Giemsa-stained thin smears. A comparison of the ability of CMXRos to stain live and compromised parasites (induced by either medium starvation or by anti-malarial drug treatment) was carried out. Finally, parasite counts obtained by CMXRos staining through flow cytometry were used to determine specific growth inhibition index (SGI) in an antibody-dependent cellular inhibition (ADCI) assay. Mitotracker Red CMXRos can reliably detect live intra-erythrocytic stages of P. falciparum. Comparison between staining of live with compromised parasites shows that CMXRos predominantly stains live parasites with functional mitochondria. Parasite counts obtained by CMXRos staining and flow cytometry were highly reproducible and can reliably determine the ability of IgG from hyper-immune individuals to inhibit parasite growth in presence of monocytes in ADCI assay. Further, a dose-dependent parasite growth inhibitory effect could be detected for both total IgG purified from hyper-immune sera and affinity purified IgGs against the N-terminal non-repeat region of GLURP in ADCI assays coupled with determination of parasite counts through CMXRos staining and flow cytometry. A flow cytometry method based on CMXRos staining for detection of live parasite populations has been optimized. This is a rapid and sensitive method with high inter-assay reproducibility which can reliably determine the anti-parasite effect mediated by antibodies in functional in vitro assays such as ADCI assay.

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