Quantitative Bioluminescent Imaging of Pre-Erythrocytic Malaria Parasite Infection Using Luciferase-Expressing Plasmodium yoelii

Jessica L. Miller, Sara Murray, Ashley M. Vaughan, Anke Harupa, Brandon Wilder, Michael Baldwin, Ian N. Crispe, Stefan H.I. Kappe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations


The liver stages of Plasmodium parasites are important targets for the development of anti-malarial vaccine candidates and chemoprophylaxis approaches that aim to prevent clinical infection. Analyzing the impact of interventions on liver stages in the murine malaria model system Plasmodium yoelii has been cumbersome and requires terminal procedures. In vivo imaging of bioluminescent parasites has previously been shown to be an effective and non-invasive alternative to monitoring liver stage burden in the Plasmodium berghei model. Here we report the generation and characterization of a transgenic P. yoelii parasite expressing the reporter protein luciferase throughout the parasite life cycle. In vivo bioluminescent imaging of these parasites allows for quantitative analysis of P. yoelii liver stage burden and parasite development, which is comparable to quantitative RT-PCR analysis of liver infection. Using this system, we show that both BALB/cJ and C57BL/6 mice show comparable susceptibility to P. yoelii infection with sporozoites and that bioluminescent imaging can be used to monitor protective efficacy of attenuated parasite immunizations. Thus, this rapid, simple and noninvasive method for monitoring P. yoelii infection in the liver provides an efficient system to screen and evaluate the effects of anti-malarial interventions in vivo and in real-time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere60820
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 11 2013
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this