Comprehensive model for assessment of liver stage therapies targeting P. vivax & P. falciparum
Malaria liver stages represent an ideal therapeutic target with a bottleneck in parasite load and reduced clinical symptoms; however, current in vitro pre-erythrocytic (PE) models for Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum lack the efficiency necessary for rapid identification and effective evaluation of new vaccines and drugs, especially targeting late liver-stage development and hypnozoites. Herein we report the development of a 384-well plate culture system using commercially available materials, including cryopreserved primary human hepatocytes. Hepatocyte physiology is maintained for at least 30 days and supports development of P. vivax hypnozoites and complete maturation of P. vivax and P. falciparum schizonts. Our multimodal analysis in antimalarial therapeutic research identifies important PE inhibition mechanisms: immune antibodies against sporozoite surface proteins functionally inhibit liver stage development and ion homeostasis is essential for schizont and hypnozoite viability. This model can be implemented in laboratories in disease-endemic areas to accelerate vaccine and drug discovery research.