Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) is a protozoal parasite that belongs to the genus Plasmodium. It is one of the five species of malaria parasites that are capable to infect humans and the most frequent and widely distributed human pathogen that causes recurring (Benign tertian) malaria. Compared with Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of the five human malaria parasites, Plasmodium vivax is less virulent. However, vivax malaria may lead to severe disease and death due to splenomegaly, a pathologically enlargement of spleen. It is carried by the female Anopheles mosquito as well as many other Plasmodium species. Plasmodium vivax can be found mainly in United States, South America and some areas in Africa.
Plasmodium vivax has a complex life cycle like all the malaria parasites. It infects a definitive insect host and an intermediate vertebrate host. Plasmodium vivax can perform both asexual amplification (in the intermediate vertebrate host) and sexual reproduction (in the definitive insect host) during its life cycle. In P. vivax, the definitive insect host is Anopheles mosquito and the intermediate vertebrate host is human. Like other human malaria paarasites, P. vivax assumes many different physical forms during its life cycle, including asexual forms such as sporozoite, immature or mature trophozoites, schizonts and sexual forms like gametocytes, gametes, zygote and oocyst.
Fig.1 Mature P. vivax trophozoite
Human infection of P.vivax happens when an infect Anopheles mosquito bites human. Thousands of sporozoites are inoculated into human blood along with the saliva of the mosquito. These sporozoites transfer into the livers quickly (within 30 min). They enter the hepatic cells, transform into trophozoite form, feed and start asexual reproduction. Thousands of merozoites are produced and spread to circulatory system and the liver. P. vivax preferentially penetrates young red blood cells. Two proteins were involved in this progress: PvRBP-1 and PvRBP-2. Duffy blood group antigens (Fy6) are used to penetrate red blood cells.
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