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Oleic acid is indispensable for intraerythrocytic proliferation of Plasmodium falciparum

  • F. MI-ICHI (a1), S. KANO (a2) and T. MITAMURA (a1)


Serum-derived fatty acids are essential for the intraerythrocytic proliferation of Plasmodium falciparum in humans. We previously reported that only limited combinations of fatty acids can support long-term parasite culture, and palmitic acid (C16:0)/oleic acid (C18:1, n-9), palmitic acid (C16:0)/vaccenic acid (C18:1, n-7), or stearic acid (C18:0) are required in these combinations, implying that these fatty acids are key molecules for intraerythrocytic parasite growth (Mi-Ichi et al.2006). Here, we analysed profiles of parasitaemia changes as well as morphologies during the erythrocytic cycle and confirmed the importance of C16:0 and C18:1, n-9. We also provide evidence that C18:1, n-9 but not other C18 monoenoic or dienoic acids maintain the synchronicity of parasite development in serum-free medium when paired with C16:0, resulting in maintained exponential growth. Thus, C18:1, n-9 is indispensable for the intraerythrocytic proliferation of P. falciparum.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Research Institute, International Medical Center of Japan, 1-21-1 Toyama, Shinjuku, Tokyo 162-8655, Japan. Tel: +81-3-3202-7181 ext. 2871. Fax: +81-3-3202-7364. E-mail:


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