Plasmodium falciparum infecting hemoglobin (Hb) H and/or Hb Constant Spring erythrocytes in vitro was relatively more resistant than that infecting normal erythrocytes to artesunate and chloroquine, while the sensitivity to pyrimethamine was unchanged. The 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50) for artesunate in HbH (alpha-thal 1/alpha-thal 2), HbH (alpha-thal 1/Hb Constant Spring), and homozygous Hb Constant Spring erythrocytes were 4.5 +/- 2.8, 8.5 +/- 3.2, and 2.6 +/- 1.6 nM compared with 0.82 +/- 0.35 nM in normal erythrocytes (P less than 0.002 for all three cases).
Plasmodium falciparum infecting hemoglobin (Hb)H and/or Hb Constant Spring erythrocytes has higher resistance to artemisinin in vitro than when infecting normal erythrocytes. This is due to low drug accumulation of infected erythrocytes resulting from competition with uninfected variant erythrocytes, which have a higher accumulation capacity than genetically normal cells. Drug accumulation of the parasite was shown to be saturable and dependent on metabolic energy.