The study of human malaria has been hampered by the lack of small animal models for the human-infecting malarial parasites. To approach this problem, the erythrocytic stages of the human malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum were adapted to in vitro growth in the presence of ascites fluid from mice homozygous for the severe-combined immunodeficiency (scid) mutation. Human red blood cells (hRBCs) infected with these adapted parasites were then injected i.p. into nonobese diabetic scid/scid (NOD/LtSz-scid) mice. With daily supplemental intraperitoneal boosts of uninfected hRBCs, parasites were detected in the peripheral circulation of these mice for an average of 7 d after injection. Splenectomy of NOD/LtSz-scid mice increased both the level and duration of parasitemia in the periphery, and it also promoted the circulation of mature sexual stage parasites (gametocytes). When Anopheline mosquitoes were allowed to feed on the splenectomized mice, the gametocytes were ingested by the mosquitoes and developed into oocysts in the mosquito midguts. To our knowledge, these results are the first demonstration of human malarial parasite propagation in mice and transmission of these parasites to the invertebrate vector.

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