Reliable molecular markers are essential for a better understanding of the molecular epidemiology of Plasmodium vivax
, which is a neglected human malaria parasite. The aim of this study was to analyze the genetic diversity of P. vivax
isolates from the Brazilian Amazon using polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) analysis of the highly polymorphic merozoite surface protein-3alpha (PvMSP-3α) gene. To accomplish this, 60 isolates of P. vivax
from different endemic areas in the Brazilian Amazon were collected. The PvMSP-3α gene was amplified by nested-PCR. Three major types of the PvMSP-3α locus were detected at different frequencies: type A (68%), B (15%) and C (17%). A single sample showed two PCR fragments, which corresponded to infection with types A and C. PCR-RFLP analysis using the Hha
I restriction enzyme for 52 isolates clearly identified 11 haplotypes, eight of which were from type A, two from type B and only one from type C. Seven other isolates did not show a clear pattern using PCR-RFLP. This result might be due to multiple clone infections. This study showed a high diversity of the PvMSP-3α gene among P. vivax
isolates from the Brazilian Amazon, but also indicated that the detection performance of PCR-RFLP of the PvMSP-3α gene may not be sufficient to detect multiple clone infections.