What is the evidence for the existence of Plasmodium ovale hypnozoites?
Relapsing human malaria is regarded to be caused by Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale. P. vivax relapses originate from dormant liver stages: “hypnozoites”. Also, P. ovale, a species considered as closely related to P. vivax, is in analogy assumed to display hypnozoites. A close biologic relationship is, however, not supported by molecular genetic studies. Therefore, original literature published since the description of P. ovale in 1922 was systematically screened for the demonstration of hypnozoites or circumstantial evidence for their existence, i.e. the occurrence of true relapses. In P. ovale infection, hypnozoites have never been demonstrated by biological experiments, and the few reports published on relapses have conflicting results.