Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BackgroundPlasmodium falciparum is an apicomplexan parasite responsible for lethal cases of malaria. According to WHO recommendations, P falciparum cases are treated with artemisinin-based combination therapy including dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. However, the emergence of resistant parasites against dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine was reported in southeast Asia in 2008 and, a few years later, suspected in South America.MethodsTo characterise resistance emergence, a treatment efficacy study was performed on the reported patients infected with P falciparum and treated with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in French Guiana (n=6, 2016-18). Contemporary isolates collected in French Guiana were genotyped for P falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter (pfCRT; n=845) and pfpm2 and pfpm3 copy number (n=231), phenotyped using the in vitro piperaquine survival assay (n=86), and analysed through genomic studies (n=50). Additional samples from five Amazonian countries and one outside the region were genotyped (n=1440).FindingsIn field isolates, 40 (47%) of 86 (95% CI 35·9-57·1) were resistant to piperaquine in vitro; these phenotypes were more associated with pfCRTC350R (ie, Cys350Arg) and pfpm2 and pfpm3 amplifications (Dunn test, p<0·001). Those markers were also associated with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine treatment failure (n=3 [50%] of 6). A high prevalence of piperaquine resistance markers was observed in Suriname in 19 (83%) of 35 isolates and in Guyana in 579 (73%) of 791 isolates. The pfCRTC350R mutation emerged before pfpm2 and pfpm3 amplification in a temporal sequence different from southeast Asia, and in the absence of artemisinin partial resistance, suggesting a geographically distinctive epistatic relationship between these genetic markers.InterpretationThe high prevalence of piperaquine resistance markers in parasite populations of the Guianas, and the risk of associated therapeutic failures calls for caution on dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine use in the region. Furthermore, greater attention should be given to potential differences in genotype to phenotype mapping across genetically distinct parasite populations from different continents.FundingPan American Health Organization and WHO, French Ministry for Research, European Commission, Santé publique France, Agence Nationale de la Recherche, Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Amazonas, Ministry of Health of Brazil, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, and National Institutes of Health.TranslationsFor the French and Portuguese translations of the abstract see Supplementary Materials section.

Original publication




Journal article


The Lancet. Infectious diseases

Publication Date





161 - 171


Laboratoire de parasitologie, World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Surveillance of Antimalarial Drug Resistance, Center Nationale de Référence du Paludisme, Institut Pasteur de la Guyane, Cayenne, French Guiana.


Humans, Plasmodium falciparum, Malaria, Malaria, Falciparum, Artemisinins, Piperazines, Quinolines, Protozoan Proteins, Antimalarials, Treatment Outcome, Epidemiologic Studies, Drug Resistance