Published: May 4, 2022
Kho S, Anstey NM, Barber BE, Piera K, William T, Kenangalem E, McCarthy JS, Jang IK, Domingo GJ, Britton S, Grigg MJ. Diagnostic performance of a 5-plex malaria immunoassay in regions co-endemic for Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. knowlesi, P. malariae and P. ovale. Sci Rep. 2022 May 4;12(1):7286. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-11042-w. PMID: 35508558; PMCID: PMC9068623.
Commercial point-of-care tests remain insufficient for accurately detecting and differentiating low-level malaria infections in regions co-endemic with multiple non-falciparum species, including zoonotic Plasmodium knowlesi (Pk). A 5-plex chemiluminescent assay simultaneously measures pan-Plasmodium lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH), P. falciparum (Pf)-LDH, P. vivax (Pv)-LDH, Pf-histidine-rich protein-2 (HRP2), and C-reactive protein. We assessed its diagnostic performance on whole blood (WB) samples from 102 healthy controls and 306 PCR-confirmed clinical cases of Pf, Pv, Pk, P. malariae (Pm) and P. ovale (Po) mono-infections from Southeast-Asia. We confirm its excellent HRP2-based detection of Pf. Cross-reactivity of Pf-LDH with all non-falciparum species tested was observed (specificity 57.3%). Pv-LDH performance was suboptimal for Pv (93.9% sensitivity and 73.9% specificity). Poor specificity was driven by strong Pk cross-reactivity, with Pv-LDH detecting 93.9% of Pk infections. The pan-LDH-to-Pf-LDH ratio was capable of discerning Pv from Pk, and robustly differentiated Pf from Pm or Po infection, useful in regions with hrp2/3 deletions. We tested the platform’s performance in plasma for the first time, with WB outperforming plasma for all analytes except Pv-LDH for Pk. The platform is a promising tool for WB malaria diagnosis, although further development is warranted to improve its utility in regions co-endemic for multiple non-falciparum species.