Plasmodium genome in blood donors at risk for malaria after several years of residence in Italy

TitlePlasmodium genome in blood donors at risk for malaria after several years of residence in Italy
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsAssennato SM
Date PublishedOct


At present, the main risk of transfusion-transmitted malaria (TTM) in nonendemic countries is chronic, asymptomatic immigrants from malaria-endemic areas. Semi-immune donors may carry undetected parasitemia. This study examines Plasmodium infection in at-risk blood donors in Northern Italy.

Plasma samples from 97 candidate donors and 80 controls were tested for malarial antibodies using a commercial enzyme immunoassay. The conserved 18S rRNA and the mitochondrial genes of Plasmodium were amplified to detect and quantify parasite genomes (copies/mL). Plasmodium species were identified with a species-specific nested polymerase chain reaction. Parasitemic samples were further tested by amplification of polymorphic repetitive regions in MSP-1 Block 2, MSP-2 Block 3, and glutamate-rich protein (GLURP) confirmed by sequencing.

Three of 83 seropositive (3.6%) and one of 14 seronegative at-risk candidate donors carried Plasmodium genome (4 × 10(3) -8.5 × 10(4) copies/mL): two P. falciparum, one P. malariae (seronegative sample), and one coinfection with P. malariae and P. ovale. Alleles of MSP-1 (MAD20 and K1), MSP-2 (3D7 and FC27), and GLURP were amplified from Sample 261. In Sample 282 only one allele in MSP-2 (FC27) and GLURP was amplified. No alleles were detected in Samples 283 and 331.

Immigrants from endemic countries might carry infectious Plasmodium after 2 to 5 years of continuous residence in Italy. Serologic screening may miss donors carrying P. malariae. Permanent exclusion or screening for both antibodies and genome are needed to prevent TTM.

Alternate JournalTransfusion
Notify Library Reference ID4598