Malaria continues to be a devastating disease. In a previous study, we formulated a chemically defined culture medium that is able to sustain the complete intraerythrocytic growth of Plasmodium falciparum. We tested the feasibility of using the medium (CDRPMI) as well as human serum-free media enriched with commercially available human-serum substitutes (GFSRPMI and ALBRPMI) to assess the drug sensitivity of P. falciparum, using chloroquine diphosphate (CQ) and dihydroartemisinin (DHART) as conventional antimalarial drugs. Growth inhibition was measured by four different methods: flow cytometry with SYBR Green I (FCM), microscopy (Giemsa method), enzymatic estimation of parasite lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH), and histidine-rich protein 2 (HRPII) determination. In drug sensitivity tests on asynchronous parasites cultured for 96 h in the presence of drugs, the dose-response curves were similar and differences in the 50% growth inhibition concentrations for the drugs, which were estimated by the four methods, were not statistically significant for the three culture media. The effect of the drugs on the growth of synchronous parasites at the ring stage was also assessed in micro-volume tests by three different methods of FCM: tracking fluorescent erythrocytes, schizont test, and merozoite test. Dose-response curves for the drugs were similar, and differences in the 50% growth inhibition concentrations were not statistically significant for CDRPMI and GFSRPMI. Thus CDRPMI as well as GFSRPMI and ALBRPMI can be similarly useful media for drug sensitivity testing of P. falciparum. The FCM, pLDH and HRPII estimations were fast and reliable detection methods, with FCM allowing schizont and merozoite tests to be performed with shorter periods of culture.
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