Balb/c mice were examined to determine whether or not they transmitted rodent malaria, Plasmodium berghei, to their fetuses. On the 15th day of pregnancy, mice were inoculated with approximately 3 × 106 P. berghei-infected erythrocytes by peritoneal injection. The blood from 27 adult females and 196 neonates was examined using a sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method with a detection level of approximately 1 parasite/μl blood. The average parasitemia of females at delivery was 8.1%, ranging from nondetectable to 37.1%. In 12 females, nested PCR established the presence of blood parasite DNA. Malaria parasites were microscopically confirmed in 2 of the 12 neonates. Maternal parasitemia at the time of delivery was not correlated with the incidence of vertical infection (6.1%), which was higher in this study than that found in previous studies. Although the combination of balb/c mice and P. berghei has not been used to examine vertical transmission of malaria, our report showed that this model may be used for this purpose.
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