Plasmodium falciparum parasites with histidine-rich protein 2 (pfhrp2) and pfhrp3 gene deletions in two endemic regions of Kenya

Khalid B. Beshir*, Nuno Sepúlveda, Jameel Bharmal, Ailie Robinson, Julian Mwanguzi, Annette Obukosia Busula, Jetske Gudrun De Boer, Colin Sutherland, Jane Cunningham, Heidi Hopkins

*Corresponding author for this work

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Deletions of the Plasmodium falciparum hrp2 and hrp3 genes can affect the performance of HRP2-based malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs). Such deletions have been reported from South America, India and Eritrea. Whether these parasites are widespread in East Africa is unknown. A total of 274 samples from asymptomatic children in Mbita, western Kenya, and 61 genomic data from Kilifi, eastern Kenya, were available for analysis. PCR-confirmed samples were investigated for the presence of pfhrp2 and pfhrp3 genes. In samples with evidence of deletion, parasite presence was confirmed by amplifying three independent genes. We failed to amplify pfhrp2 from 25 of 131 (19.1%) PCR-confirmed samples. Of these, only 8 (10%) samples were microscopic positive and were classified as pfhrp2-deleted. Eight microscopically-confirmed pfhrp2-deleted samples with intact pfhrp3 locus were positive by HRP2-based RDT. In addition, one PCR-confirmed infection showed a deletion at the pfhrp3 locus. One genomic sample lacked pfhrp2 and one lacked pfhrp3. No sample harbored parasites lacking both genes. Parasites lacking pfhrp2 are present in Kenya, but may be detectable by HRP-based RDT at higher parasitaemia, possibly due to the presence of intact pfhrp3. These findings warrant further systematic study to establish prevalence and diagnostic significance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14718
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • 017-4052

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