Modeling the dynamics of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes in humans during malaria infection

Published: October 29, 2019


Cao P, Collins KA, Zaloumis S, Wattanakul T, Tarning J, Simpson JA, McCarthy J, McCaw JM. Modeling the dynamics of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes in humans during malaria infection. eLife 2019;8:e49058 doi: 10.7554/eLife.49058


Renewed efforts to eliminate malaria have highlighted the potential to interrupt human-to-mosquito transmission — a process mediated by gametocyte kinetics in human hosts. Here we study the in vivo dynamics of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes by establishing a framework which incorporates improved measurements of parasitemia, a novel gametocyte dynamics model and model fitting using Bayesian hierarchical inference. We found that the model provides an excellent fit to the clinical data from 17 volunteers infected with P. falciparum (3D7 strain) and reliably predicts observed gametocytemia. We estimated the sexual commitment rate and gametocyte sequestration time to be 0.54% (95% credible interval: 0.30–1.00%) per asexual replication cycle and 8.39 (6.54–10.59) days respectively. We used the data-calibrated model to investigate human-to-mosquito transmissibility, providing a method to link within-human host infection kinetics to epidemiological-scale infection and transmission patterns.