register interest

Professor Adrianus Dondorp

Research Area: Global Health
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health
Web Links:
Difference in parasite clearance rates after oral artesunate in patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Northwestern Thailand (Wang Pha) compared to Western Cambodia (Pailin)
(N Engl J Med. 2009 Jul 30;361(5):455-67)

Difference in parasite clearance rates after oral artesunate in patients with uncomplicated falcipar ...

Survival curves of (mainly adult) patients with severe malaria treated with intravenous quinine versus artesunate (SEAQUAMAT trial; n=1461; Lancet 2005 Aug;366(9487):717-25).

Survival curves of (mainly adult) patients with severe malaria treated with intravenous quinine vers ...

Relation between the calculated total body Plasmodium falciparum biomass and severity of disease. Parasite biomass was derived from the plasma PfHRP2 concentration, a protein released in discrete amounts at the moment of schizont rupture (PLoS Med 2005 Aug;2(8):e204)

Relation between the calculated total body Plasmodium falciparum biomass and severity of disease. Pa ...

Since November 2000, I work at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok, Thailand, where I am currently the Deputy Director and Head of Malaria Research.

Our research unit studies a diversity of aspects of infectious (and other) diseases that are causing significant morbidity and mortality in the tropics. For this purpose we have a large network of clinical sites in both Africa and Asia, including Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Mozambique and elsewhere.

My main research interests include the pathophysiology and treatment of severe malaria, antimalarial drug resistance and improvement of intensive care practice in developing countries. We showed in a large multinational trial in SE Asia in 1461 mainly adult patients that parenteral artesunate is superior to quinine in preventing death; an even larger trial comparing the same drugs in African children with severe malaria is under way. Studies on the microcirculation in patients with severe malaria have revealed the likely contribution of red cell rigidity to the impairment of microcirculatory flow. We were the first to apply a new method to visualise obstruction of the microcirculation in vivo in patients with severe malaria. We also developed a method to calculate the sequestered parasite biomass from plasma PfHRP2, a protein released by the parasite and showed that yet to be identified organic acids other than lactate are an important contributor to the metabolic acidosis in severe malaria and have strong prognostic significance. Our team was the first to perform a comparative trial which unambiguously showed resistance of P. falciparum to artemisinins in Western Cambodia and in collaboration with other international groups are now working on further characterization of this resistance phenotype and identify molecular determinants of artemisinin resistance. We are also involved in finding new treatments for these patients and in the containment efforts against this serious threat to global malaria control.

In addition to this focus on malaria, we are coordinating a dedicated effort to improve intensive care medicine in developing countries in Asia, through teaching as well as the systematic implementation of cost-effective interventions and their assessment. My vision is that true collaborations with enthousiastic and like minded doctors and researchers from all countries where we are active help to identify important research questions, improves the quality of research, and builds capacity as an inherent side effect. Our unit has unique expertise and possibilities to conduct research from bench to bedside, and is in the centre of an extensive network enabling to conduct large multinational trials when definite answers are sought for important research questions aimed at improving treatment and reducing morbidity and mortality of malaria and other diseases.

There are no collaborations listed for this principal investigator.

Dondorp AM, Nosten F, Yi P, Das D, Phyo AP, Tarning J, Lwin KM, Ariey F et al. 2009. Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. N Engl J Med, 361 (5), pp. 455-467. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-based combination therapies are the recommended first-line treatments of falciparum malaria in all countries with endemic disease. There are recent concerns that the efficacy of such therapies has declined on the Thai-Cambodian border, historically a site of emerging antimalarial-drug resistance. METHODS: In two open-label, randomized trials, we compared the efficacies of two treatments for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Pailin, western Cambodia, and Wang Pha, northwestern Thailand: oral artesunate given at a dose of 2 mg per kilogram of body weight per day, for 7 days, and artesunate given at a dose of 4 mg per kilogram per day, for 3 days, followed by mefloquine at two doses totaling 25 mg per kilogram. We assessed in vitro and in vivo Plasmodium falciparum susceptibility, artesunate pharmacokinetics, and molecular markers of resistance. RESULTS: We studied 40 patients in each of the two locations. The overall median parasite clearance times were 84 hours (interquartile range, 60 to 96) in Pailin and 48 hours (interquartile range, 36 to 66) in Wang Pha (P<0.001). Recrudescence confirmed by means of polymerase-chain-reaction assay occurred in 6 of 20 patients (30%) receiving artesunate monotherapy and 1 of 20 (5%) receiving artesunate-mefloquine therapy in Pailin, as compared with 2 of 20 (10%) and 1 of 20 (5%), respectively, in Wang Pha (P=0.31). These markedly different parasitologic responses were not explained by differences in age, artesunate or dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics, results of isotopic in vitro sensitivity tests, or putative molecular correlates of P. falciparum drug resistance (mutations or amplifications of the gene encoding a multidrug resistance protein [PfMDR1] or mutations in the gene encoding sarco-endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase6 [PfSERCA]). Adverse events were mild and did not differ significantly between the two treatment groups. CONCLUSIONS: P. falciparum has reduced in vivo susceptibility to artesunate in western Cambodia as compared with northwestern Thailand. Resistance is characterized by slow parasite clearance in vivo without corresponding reductions on conventional in vitro susceptibility testing. Containment measures are urgently needed. ( number, NCT00493363, and Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN64835265.) Hide abstract

Dondorp AM, Lee SJ, Faiz MA, Mishra S, Price R, Tjitra E, Than M, Htut Y et al. 2008. The relationship between age and the manifestations of and mortality associated with severe malaria. Clin Infect Dis, 47 (2), pp. 151-157. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The reported case-fatality rate associated with severe malaria varies widely. Whether age is an independent risk factor is uncertain. METHODS: In a large, multicenter treatment trial conducted in Asia, the presenting manifestations and outcome of severe malaria were analyzed in relation to age. RESULTS: Among 1050 patients with severe malaria, the mortality increased stepwise, from 6.1% in children (age, <10 years) to 36.5% in patients aged >50 years (P<0.001). Compared with adults aged 21-50 years, the decreased risk of death among children (adjusted odds ratio, 0.06; 95% confidence interval, 0.01-0.23; P<0.001) and the increased risk of death among patients aged >50 years (adjusted odds ratio, 1.88; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-3.52; P<0.001) was independent of the variation in presenting manifestations. The incidence of anemia and convulsions decreased with age, whereas the incidence of hyperparasitemia, jaundice, and renal insufficiency increased with age. Coma and metabolic acidosis did not vary with age and were the strongest predictors of a fatal outcome. The number of severity signs at hospital admission also had a strong prognostic value. CONCLUSION: Presenting syndromes in severe malaria depend on age, although the incidence and the strong prognostic significance of coma and acidosis are similar at all ages. Age is an independent risk factor for a fatal outcome of the disease. Hide abstract

Dondorp AM, Ince C, Charunwatthana P, Hanson J, van Kuijen A, Faiz MA, Rahman MR, Hasan M et al. 2008. Direct in vivo assessment of microcirculatory dysfunction in severe falciparum malaria. J Infect Dis, 197 (1), pp. 79-84. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: This study sought to describe and quantify microcirculatory changes in the mucosal surfaces of patients with severe malaria, by direct in vivo observation using orthogonal polarization spectral (OPS) imaging. METHODS: The microcirculation in the rectal mucosa of adult patients with severe malaria was assessed by use of OPS imaging, at admission and then daily. Comparison groups comprised patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria, patients with bacterial sepsis, and healthy individuals. RESULTS: Erythrocyte velocities were measured directly in 43 adult patients with severe falciparum malaria, of whom 20 died. Microcirculatory blood flow was markedly disturbed, with heterogeneous obstruction that was proportional to severity of disease. Blocked capillaries were found in 29 patients (67%) and were associated with concurrent hyperdynamic blood flow (erythrocyte velocity, >750 mm/s) in adjacent vessels in 27 patients (93%). The proportion of blocked capillaries correlated with the base deficit in plasma and with the concentration of lactate. Abnormalities disappeared when the patients recovered. In healthy individuals and in patients with uncomplicated malaria or sepsis, no stagnant erythrocytes were detected, and, in patients with sepsis, hyperdynamic blood flow was prominent. CONCLUSION: Patients with severe falciparum malaria show extensive microvascular obstruction that is proportional to the severity of the disease. This finding underscores the prominent role that microvascular obstruction plays in the pathophysiology of severe malaria and illustrates the fundamental difference between the microvascular pathophysiology of malaria and that of bacterial sepsis. Hide abstract

Dondorp AM, Desakorn V, Pongtavornpinyo W, Sahassananda D, Silamut K, Chotivanich K, Newton PN, Pitisuttithum P, Smithyman AM, White NJ, Day NP. 2005. Estimation of the total parasite biomass in acute falciparum malaria from plasma PfHRP2. PLoS Med, 2 (8), pp. e204. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In falciparum malaria sequestration of erythrocytes containing mature forms of Plasmodium falciparum in the microvasculature of vital organs is central to pathology, but quantitation of this hidden sequestered parasite load in vivo has not previously been possible. The peripheral blood parasite count measures only the circulating, relatively non-pathogenic parasite numbers. P. falciparum releases a specific histidine-rich protein (PfHRP2) into plasma. Quantitative measurement of plasma PfHRP2 concentrations may reflect the total parasite biomass in falciparum malaria. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We measured plasma concentrations of PfHRP2, using a quantitative antigen-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, in 337 adult patients with falciparum malaria of varying severity hospitalised on the Thai-Burmese border. Based on in vitro production rates, we constructed a model to link this measure to the total parasite burden in the patient. The estimated geometric mean parasite burden was 7 x 10(11) (95% confidence interval [CI] 5.8 x 10(11) to 8.5 x 10(11)) parasites per body, and was over six times higher in severe malaria (geometric mean 1.7 x 10(12), 95% CI 1.3 x 10(12) to 2.3 x 10(12)) than in patients hospitalised without signs of severity (geometric mean 2.8 x 10(11), 95% CI 2.3 x 10(11) to 3.5 x 10(11); p < 0.001). Parasite burden was highest in patients who died (geometric mean 3.4 x 10(12), 95% CI 1.9 x 10(12) to 6.3 x 10(12); p = 0.03). The calculated number of sequestered parasites increased with disease severity and was higher in patients with late developmental stages of P. falciparum present on peripheral blood smears. Comparing model and laboratory estimates of the time of sequestration suggested that admission to hospital with uncomplicated malaria often follows schizogony-but in severe malaria is unrelated to stage of parasite development. CONCLUSION: Plasma PfHRP2 concentrations may be used to estimate the total body parasite biomass in acute falciparum malaria. Severe malaria results from extensive sequestration of parasitised erythrocytes. Hide abstract

Dondorp AM, Newton PN, Mayxay M, Van Damme W, Smithuis FM, Yeung S, Petit A, Lynam AJ et al. 2004. Fake antimalarials in Southeast Asia are a major impediment to malaria control: multinational cross-sectional survey on the prevalence of fake antimalarials. Trop Med Int Health, 9 (12), pp. 1241-1246. Read abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the prevalence of counterfeit antimalarial drugs in Southeast (SE) Asia. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. SETTING: Pharmacies and shops selling antimalarial drugs in Myanmar (Burma), Lao PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Proportion of artemisinin derivatives or mefloquine containing drugs of substandard quality. RESULTS: Of the 188 tablet packs purchased which were labelled as 'artesunate' 53% did not contain any artesunate. All counterfeit artesunate tablets were labelled as manufactured by 'Guilin Pharma', and refinements of the fake blisterpacks made them often hard to distinguish from their genuine counterparts. No other artemisinin derivatives were found to be counterfeited. Of the 44 mefloquine samples, 9% contained <10% of the expected amount of active ingredient. CONCLUSIONS: An alarmingly high proportion of antimalarial drugs bought in pharmacies and shops in mainland SE Asia are counterfeit, and the problem has increased significantly compared with our previous survey in 1999-2000. This is a serious threat to public health in the region. Hide abstract

Dondorp AM, Chau TT, Phu NH, Mai NT, Loc PP, Chuong LV, Sinh DX, Taylor A, Hien TT, White NJ, Day NP. 2004. Unidentified acids of strong prognostic significance in severe malaria. Crit Care Med, 32 (8), pp. 1683-1688. Read abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To calculate, using the Stewart approach to acid-base disorders, the strong anion gap as an estimate for the contribution of unmeasured plasma anions other than lactate to the metabolic acidosis that characterizes severe falciparum malaria and to assess its relative prognostic significance. DESIGN: Cohort study. SETTING: The intensive care unit of an infectious diseases hospital in southern Vietnam. PATIENTS: Consecutive adult patients (n = 268) with severe falciparum malaria. INTERVENTIONS: The intervention was clinical management in a dedicated unit. We measured baseline venous lactate, electrolytes, biochemical variables, admission arterial blood pH, and gas tensions for calculation of the strong anion gap. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: The mean (95% confidence interval) admission strong anion gap was 11.1 (10.4-11.9) mEq/L, compared with lactate (geometric mean, 95% confidence interval) at 2.9 (2.7-3.2) mmol/L. Strong anion gap had a high predictive value for mortality (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve 0.73 (95% confidence interval, 0.65-0.82), which was independent of plasma lactate and creatinine concentrations. Renal failure and hepatic dysfunction were both associated with, but were not the sole determinants of, high levels of strong anion gap. CONCLUSIONS: In severe malaria, unidentified anions other than lactate are the most important contributors to metabolic acidosis, a major cause of death. The strong anion gap is a powerful prognostic indicator in patients with severe malaria. Hide abstract

Dondorp AM, Pongponratn E, White NJ. 2004. Reduced microcirculatory flow in severe falciparum malaria: pathophysiology and electron-microscopic pathology. Acta Trop, 89 (3), pp. 309-317. Read abstract | Read more

The pathophysiology of severe falciparum malaria is complex, but evidence is mounting that its central feature is the old concept of a mechanical microcirculatory obstruction. Autopsy studies, but also in vivo observations of the microcirculation, demonstrate variable obstruction of the microcirculation in severe malaria. The principal cause of this is cytoadherence to the vascular endothelium of erythrocytes containing the mature forms of the parasite, leading to sequestration and obstruction of small vessels. Besides, parasitized red cells become rigid, compromising their flow through capillaries whose lumen has been reduced by sequestered erythrocytes. Adhesive forces between infected red cells (auto-agglutination), between infected and uninfected red cells (rosetting) and between uninfected erythrocytes (aggregation) could further slow down microcirculatory flow. A more recent finding is that uninfected erythrocytes also become rigid in severe malaria. Reduction in the overall red cell deformability has a strong predictive value for a fatal outcome. Rigidity may be caused by oxidative damage to the red blood cell membrane by malaria pigment released at the moment of schizont rupture. Anti-oxidants, such as N-acetylcysteine can reverse this effect and are promising as adjunctive treatment in severe malaria. Hide abstract


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