A simulation model of the within-host dynamics of Plasmodium vivax infection

Kerlin, Douglas H. & Gatton, Michelle L. (2015) A simulation model of the within-host dynamics of Plasmodium vivax infection. Malaria Journal, 14, p. 51.

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The benign reputation of Plasmodium vivax is at odds with the burden and severity of the disease. This reputation, combined with restricted in vitro techniques, has slowed efforts to gain an understanding of the parasite biology and interaction with its human host.


A simulation model of the within-host dynamics of P. vivax infection is described, incorporating distinctive characteristics of the parasite such as the preferential invasion of reticulocytes and hypnozoite production. The developed model is fitted using digitized time-series’ from historic neurosyphilis studies, and subsequently validated against summary statistics from a larger study of the same population. The Chesson relapse pattern was used to demonstrate the impact of released hypnozoites.


The typical pattern for dynamics of the parasite population is a rapid exponential increase in the first 10 days, followed by a gradual decline. Gametocyte counts follow a similar trend, but are approximately two orders of magnitude lower. The model predicts that, on average, an infected naïve host in the absence of treatment becomes infectious 7.9 days post patency and is infectious for a mean of 34.4 days. In the absence of treatment, the effect of hypnozoite release was not apparent as newly released parasites were obscured by the existing infection.


The results from the model provides useful insights into the dynamics of P. vivax infection in human hosts, in particular the timing of host infectiousness and the role of the hypnozoite in perpetuating infection.

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Scopus
2 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 81258
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Plasmodium vivax, simulation model, preferential invasion, hypnozoite, within-host dynamics
DOI: 10.1186/s12936-015-0580-z
ISSN: 1475-2875
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES (010000) > APPLIED MATHEMATICS (010200) > Biological Mathematics (010202)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > MEDICAL MICROBIOLOGY (110800) > Medical Parasitology (110803)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Kerlin and Gatton
Copyright Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Deposited On: 04 Feb 2015 22:52
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2017 00:01

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