Plasmodium falciparum Merozoite Surface Protein 2 Genetic Diversity and Multiplicity of Infection in Asymptomatic Malaria Cases in Lagos, Nigeria

C. O. Agomo(1), L. O. Chijioke(2), O. Ajibaye(3),

(1) Department of Medical Laboratory Science, College of Medicine of University of Lagos, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Nigeria.
(2) Department of Medical Laboratory Science, College of Medicine of University of Lagos, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Nigeria.
(3) Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria.
Corresponding Author


Background: The burden of malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum is high in Nigeria. Continuous surveillance of the genetic diversity of malaria parasites can provide important information on transmission intensity in an area.

Objective: This study investigated the genetic diversity in the highly polymorphic merozoite surface protein 2 (msp2) gene of P. falciparum in in asymptomatc malaria cases.

Methods:  A total of 59 P. falciparum-positive DNA samples collected from asymptomatic cases in Igbogbo-Bayekun, Lagos, were analyzed targeting block 3 of msp2 gene. Primers were specific for the two allelic families of msp2 block 3 (FC27 and 3D7).

Results: Overall, the frequencies of 3D7 and FC27 alleles were 71.2% (42/59) and 67.8% (40/59) respectively. Twenty-three (39%) of the samples had polyinfections (3D7+FC27), while monoinfections with 3D7 and FC27 were observed in 19 (32%) and 17 (29%) samples respectively.  Similar frequencies of 3D7 19/25(76%) and FC27 18/25(72%) were observed in samples with submicroscopic parasitaemia. Twenty-seven distinct msp2 genotypes were identified: 14 3D7 (range 175–480 bp) and 13 FC27 (range 125–500bp). Overall, there were more monoclonal infections 35(59.3%) than polyclonal infections 24 (40.7%). The overall mean multiplicity of infection (MOI) was 1.44 while the expected heterozygosity (He) was 0.51. The means of MOI were similar when compared on the basis of malaria status (microscopic or submicroscopic parasitemia) (P=0.166), gender (P=0.057) or age (P=0.866). Also, there was no association between polyclonal infection and submicroscopic parasitaemia (P=0.129).

Conclusion: The genetic diversity of falciparum infections in the study area is high while moderate multiplicity of infection was observed. The genetic diversity and MOI of msp2 gene were similar in submicroscopic and microscopic malaria parasitaemia.


Genetic diversity, multiplicity of infection, FC27, 3D7, MSP2, Plasmodium falciparum, submicroscopic malaria, parasitaemia.

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