Identification and classification of the malaria parasite blood developmental stages, using imaging flow cytometry

Elya Dekel, Anna Rivkin, Meta Kristin Heidenreich, Yakov Nadav, Birin, Yifat Ofir Birin, Ziv Porat, Neta Regev-Rudzki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Malaria is the most devastating parasitic disease of humans, caused by the unicellular protozoa of the Plasmodium genus, such as Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) and is responsible for up to a million deaths each year. Pf life cycle is complex, with transmission of the parasite between humans via mosquitos involving a remarkable series of morphological transformations. In the bloodstream, the parasites undergo asexual multiplications inside the red blood cell (RBC), where they mature through the ring (R), trophozoite (T) and schizont (S) stages, and sexual development, resulting in gametocytes (G). All symptoms of malaria pathology are caused by the asexual blood stage parasites. Flow cytometry methods were previously used to detect malaria infected (i) RBCs, in live or fixed cells, using DNA (Hoechst) and RNA (Thiazole Orange) stains. Here, by using imaging flow cytometry, we developed improved methods of identifying and quantifying each of the four parasite blood stages (R, T, S and G). This technique allows multi-channel, high resolution imaging of individual parasites, as well as detailed morphological quantification of Pf-iRBCs cultures. Moreover, by measuring iRBC morphological properties, we can eliminate corrupted and extra cellular (dying) parasites from the analysis, providing accurate quantification and robust measurement of the parasitemia profile. This new method is a valuable tool in malaria molecular biology research and drug screen assays. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-166
StatePublished - Jan 2017


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