Life cycle of Plasmodium falciparum
Life cycle of P. falciparum. The sporozoites discharged from the salivary glands of the mosquito develop in the liver cells (the hepatocytes) first as schizonts which transform and discharge merozoites into the bloodstream. The liver stage is also called the exoerythocytic (or pre-erythrocytic) stage of infection. Merozoites infect the red blood cells where they develop into trophozoites, schizonts and merozoites which are capable of reinfecting other erythrocytes. This stage of the infection is also called the erythrocytic cycle. The destruction of the red blood cells and the release of the parasites' waste products produce the episodic chills and fever that characterize the disease. Some merozoites from the blood transform into gametocytes which, when taken by the mosquito, initiate sexual development in the midgut, involving ookinetes and oocysts.