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Two malaria parasites of Southeast Asian macaques, Plasmodium knowlesi and P cynomolgi, can infect humans experimentally. In Malaysia, where both species are common, zoonotic knowlesi malaria has recently become dominant, and cases are recorded throughout the region. By contrast, to date, only a single case of naturally acquired P cynomolgi has been found in humans. In this study, we show that whereas P cynomolgi merozoites invade monkey red blood cells indiscriminately in vitro, in humans, they are restricted to reticulocytes expressing both transferrin receptor 1 (Trf1 or CD71) and the Duffy antigen/chemokine receptor (DARC or CD234). This likely contributes to the paucity of detectable zoonotic cynomolgi malaria. We further describe postinvasion morphologic and rheologic alterations in P cynomolgi-infected human reticulocytes that are strikingly similar to those observed for P vivax These observations stress the value of P cynomolgi as a model in the development of blood stage vaccines against vivax malaria.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1357 - 1363


Animals, Antigens, CD, Duffy Blood-Group System, Erythrocytes, Host-Parasite Interactions, Humans, Macaca, Merozoites, Plasmodium cynomolgi, Plasmodium vivax, Receptors, Cell Surface, Receptors, Transferrin, Reticulocytes, Rheology, Tropism, Zoonoses