A Multiscale Mathematical Model of Plasmodium Vivax Transmission

Published: July 1, 2022


Anwar MN, Hickson RI, Mehra S, McCaw JM, Flegg JA. A Multiscale Mathematical Model of Plasmodium Vivax Transmission. Bull Math Biol. 2022 Jul 1;84(8):81. doi: 10.1007/s11538-022-01036-0. PMID: 35778540; PMCID: PMC9249727.


Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites which are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Plasmodium vivax is distinct from other malaria species in its ability to remain dormant in the liver (as hypnozoites) and activate later to cause further infections (referred to as relapses). Mathematical models to describe the transmission dynamics of P. vivax have been developed, but most of them fail to capture realistic dynamics of hypnozoites. Models that do capture the complexity tend to involve many governing equations, making them difficult to extend to incorporate other important factors for P. vivax, such as treatment status, age and pregnancy. In this paper, we have developed a multiscale model (a system of integro-differential equations) that involves a minimal set of equations at the population scale, with an embedded within-host model that can capture the dynamics of the hypnozoite reservoir. In this way, we can gain key insights into dynamics of P. vivax transmission with a minimum number of equations at the population scale, making this framework readily scalable to incorporate more complexity. We performed a sensitivity analysis of our multiscale model over key parameters and found that prevalence of P. vivax blood-stage infection increases with both bite rate and number of mosquitoes but decreases with hypnozoite death rate. Since our mathematical model captures the complex dynamics of P. vivax and the hypnozoite reservoir, it has the potential to become a key tool to inform elimination strategies for P. vivax.

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