Updating the modified Thompson test by using whole-body bioluminescence imaging to replace traditional efficacy testing in experimental models of murine malaria
© The Author(s) 2019
- Published: 15 February 2019
Rodent malaria models are extensively used to predict treatment outcomes in human infections. There is a constant need to improve and refine these models by innovating ways to apply new scientific findings and cutting edge technologies. In addition, and in accordance with the three R’s of animal use in research, in vivo studies should be constantly refined to avoid unnecessary pain and distress to the experimental animals by using preemptive euthanasia as soon as the main scientific study objective has been accomplished.
The new methodology described in this manuscript uses the whole-body bioluminescence signal emitted by transgenic, luciferase-expressing Plasmodium berghei parasites to assess the parasite load predicted parasitaemia (PLPP) in drug and control treated female ICR-CD1 mice infected with 1 × 105 luciferase-expressing P. berghei (ANKA strain) infected erythrocytes. This methodology can replace other time-consuming and expensive methods that are routinely used to measure parasitaemia in infected animals, such as Giemsa-stained thin blood smears and flow cytometry.
There is a good correlation between whole-body bioluminescence signal and parasitaemia measured using Giemsa-stained thin blood smears and flow cytometry respectively in donor and study mice in the modified Thompson test. The algebraic formulas which represent these correlations can be successfully used to assess PLPP in donor and study mice. In addition, the new methodology can pinpoint sick animals 2–8 days before they would have been otherwise diagnosed based on behavioural or any other signs of malaria disease.
The new method for predicting parasitaemia in the modified Thompson test is simple, precise, objective, and minimizes false positive results that can lead to the premature removal of animals from study. Furthermore, from the animal welfare perspective of replace, reduce, and refine, this new method facilitates early removal of sick animals from study as soon as the study objective has been achieved, in many cases well before the clinical signs of disease are present.
- Plasmodium berghei
- Animal models
- Parasite load predicted parasitaemia (PLPP)
- Anti-malarial drugs
- Preemptive euthanasia
- Parasitaemia readout
- In vivo imaging technology