Detection of Plasmodium falciparum in pregnancy by laser desorption mass spectrometry

Myaing Nyunt, John Pisciotta, Andrew B. Feldman, Philip Thuma, Peter F. Scholl, Plamen A. Demirev, Jeffrey S. Lin, Lirong Shi, Nirbhay Kumar, David J. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Detection of Plasmodium falciparum malaria during pregnancy is complicated by sequestration of parasites in the placenta, which reduces peripheral blood microscopic detection. Laser desorption mass spectrometry (LDMS) has previously demonstrated sensitive detection of hemozoin from P. falciparum blood cultures and the ability to track parasitemia in a Plasmodium yoelii malaria mouse model. Here we use a simple, dilution in water, blood sample preparation protocol for LDMS detection of malaria in 45 asymptomatic, pregnant Zambian women. We compare LDMS to microscopy and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis. All women were microscopy negative. LDMS detected P. falciparum hemozoin in 15 out of 45 women, while PCR results were positive in 25 women. Compared with PCR, which analyzed 20-30 μL of blood, the sensitivity of LDMS, which analyzed < 1 μL of blood, was 52%, with a specificity of 92%. LDMS is a potentially rapid and more sensitive alternate diagnostic method than microscopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-490
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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