Dr. Adelfa E. Serrano

Dr. Adelfa E. Serrano Brizuela

Contact Info

  • Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Parasites: Malaria
    Rm A-310, Rm A-346, Rm A-349
    Department of Microbiology and Medical Zoology,
    University of Puerto-Rico-School of Medicine
    Medical Sciences Campus
    P.O. Box 365067,
    San Juan, P.R. 00936-5067.
  • Phone Office:
    787) 758-2525 ext.: X-1313;
    (787) 751-9486
    Phone Lab:
    (787) 758-2525, X-2217, X-1314


  • B.S. Biology , University of Puerto Rico, R.P., P.R. 1979
  • M.S. Biology/Parasite Immunology, University of Puerto Rico, R.P., P.R. 1981
  • Ph. D. Zoo/Immunoparasitology, University of Georgia, Dept. of Zoology 1987
  • Post-doc Molec. Biol. of Parasites, Harvard School of Public Health, Trop.Pub. Health 1991

Coordinator AIDS and Infectious Diseases Laboratory (Rm A-349), RCMI-Center for Molecular Genetics and Infectious Diseases Research (Serrano, Activity Coordinator)
Link: http://rcmi.rcm.upr.edu/research/molgencore.html

Malaria, caused by Plasmodium spp., remains as the most devastating parasitic disease affecting more than 225 million people worldwide. Nearly 1 million deaths are reported yearly, mostly children under the age of 5. Half of the world’s population is considered at risk of malaria. Despite of ongoing efforts to generate novel antimalarials, find alternate vector controlling strategies and develop of an effective vaccine, the emergence and rapid spread of multidrug resistant Plasmodium coupled to the insecticide-resistant Anopheles strains, has resulted in re-emergence of this disease. There are currently no new drugs available and resistance has been reported for all of the antimalarials currently in use. Our previous and current work focuses in understanding mechanisms of underlying the development of Plasmodium drug resistance. The long-term goal of our research is to fully understand oxidative stress coping mechanisms and the glutathione biosynthetic pathway in the rodent malaria model, P. berghei in order to identify potential targets and drug resistance mechanisms to control the spread of malaria.


Our research is focused on genes from the glutathione biosynthesis and recycling pathway and those encoding ABC transporter proteins. These genes were previously associated to antimalarial resistance. Our approach to study this phenomenon is a combination of molecular and cellular biology techniques using Plasmodium berghei, which is a powerful rodent model for in vivo analyses. Following disruption of the genes of interest, both individually and in combination (double knockouts), phenotypical analyses including parasite development within the vertebrate (mouse) and invertebrate (mosquito) hosts are performed. In addition, sensitivity profiles to various anti-malarial drugs are determined both in vitro and in vivo. These studies contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the oxidative stress coping mechanisms mediated by GSH and the role of ABC transporter proteins in parasite development providing new avenues for the development of novel antimalarial intervention strategies.

Additional research interests include in vivo drug testing of antimalarial compounds as part of collaborative efforts.


  • Barker RH Jr, Urgaonkar S, Mazitschek R, Celatka C, Skerlj R, Cortese JF, Tyndall E, Liu H, Cromwell M, Sidhu AB, Guerrero-Bravo JE, Crespo-Llado KN, Serrano AE, Lin JW, Janse CJ, Khan SM, Duraisingh M, Coleman BI, Angulo-Barturen I, Jiménez-Díaz MB, Magán N, Gomez V, Ferrer S, Santos Martínez M, Wittlin S, Papastogiannidis P, O’Shea T, Klinger JD, Bree M, Lee E, Levine M, Wiegand RC, Munoz B, Wirth DF, Clardy J, Bathurst I, Sybertz E. Aminoindoles: a Novel Scaffold with Potent Activity against Plasmodium falciparum. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2011 Mar 21. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Gerena Y, Gonzalez-Pons M and Serrano AE. Cytofluorometric Detection of Rodent Malaria Parasites Using Red-Excited Fluorescent Dyes. Cytometry Part A (In press)
  • Pastrana-Mena R, Dinglasan RR, Franke-Fayard B, Vega-Rodriguez J, Fuentes-Caraballo M, Baerga-Ortiz A, Coppens I, Jacobs-Lorena M, Janse CJ, Serrano AE. 2010. Glutathione reductase-null malaria parasites have normal blood stage growth but arrest during development in the mosquito.J Biol Chem. 2010 Jun 23. PMID: 20573956
  • Booker ML, Bastos CM, Kramer ML, Barker RH Jr, Skerlj R, Bir Sidhu A, Deng X, Celatka C, Cortese JF, Guerrero Bravo JE, Krespo Llado KN, Serrano AE, Angulo-Barturen I, Jimenez-Diaz MB, Viera S, Garuti H, Wittlin S, Papastogiannidis P, Lin JW, Janse CJ, Khan SM, Duraisingh M, Coleman B, Goldsmith EJ, Phillips MA, Munoz B, Wirth DF, Klinger JD, Wiegand R, Sybertz E. 2010. Novel inhibitors of plasmodium falciparum dihydroorotate dehydrogenase with anti-malarial activity in the mouse model. J Biol Chem. 2010 Aug 11. PMID: 20702404
  • Urgaonkar S, Cortese JF, Barker RH, Cromwell M, Serrano AE, Wirth DF, Clardy J, Mazitschek R. 2010. A Concise Silylamine Approach to 2-Amino-3-hydroxy-indoles with Potent in vivo Antimalaria Activity. Org Lett. 2010 Aug 18. PMID: 20718474
  • Colón-Lorenzo EE, Serrano AE, Nicholas Jr. HB, Wymore T, Ropelewski AJ, González-Méndez R. The Plasmodium glutathione S-transferase: Bioinformatics Characterization and Classification into the Sigma Class. (2010). In: Fred A, Filipe J, Gamboa H, editors. Proceedings of Bioinformatics 2010, 1st International Conference on Bioinformatics, pp 173-180. Lisbon, Portugal, ISBN: 978-989-674-019-1 (PMID in process)
  • Vega-Rodríguez J, Franke-Fayard B, Dinglasan RR, Janse CJ, Pastrana-Mena R, Waters AP, Coppens I, Rodríguez-Orengo JF, Jacobs-Lorena M, and Serrano AE. 2009. The glutathione biosynthetic pathway of Plasmodium is essential for mosquito transmission. PLoS Pathog. Feb;5(2):e1000302. PMID: 19229315.
  • Gonzalez-Pons M, Szeto AC, Gonzalez-Mendez R, and Serrano AE. 2009. Identification and bioinformatic characterization of a multidrug resistance associated protein (ABCC) gene in Plasmodium berghei. Malar J. Jan 2;8(1):1. [PMID: 19118502.14
  • Ferrer-Rodríguez, I., J. Pérez-Rosado, G. W. Gervais, W. Peters, B.Robinson and A.E.Serrano. 2004. Plasmodium yoelii: identification and partial characterization of an mdr1 gene in an artemisinin resistant line. Journal of Parasitol. 90 (1):
  • Szeto, A.C., J. Pérez-Rosado, I. Ferrer-Rodríguez, J. Vega, C. Torruella-Thillet and A.E.Serrano. 2003. Identification and expression analysis of ABC genes in Plasmodium yoelii and Plasmodium berghei. Parasitol. Research. Oct.17
  • Pérez-Rosado, J., G. W. Gervais, Ferrer-Rodríguez, I., W. Peters, and A. E. Serrano. 2002. Plasmodium berghei: Analysis of the gamma-glutamylcystheine synthetase gene in drug resistant lines. Exp.Parasitol. 101: 175-182.
  • Ferrer-Rodríguez, I., J. Pérez Rosado, and A.E. Serrano. 2000. “El Diagnóstico de la Malaria”. Revista Oficial Colegio Tecnólogos Médicos. 16(2):6-10.
  • Carrasquillo, G., M. Banguero, P. Sánchez, F. Carvajal. R. H. Barker Jr., G. Gervais, E. Algarín and A.E. Serrano. 2000. Epidemiological tools for malaria surveillance in an urban setting of low endemicity along the Colombian Pacific coast. American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene 62(1): 132-137.
  • Ferrer-Rodríguez, I., G. Vázquez, J. Córdova, and A.E. Serrano. 1999. Diagnosis of malaria by Polymerase Chain Reaction. Puerto Rico Health Sci. Journal. 18(2):99-103.
  • A.E. Serrano, B.L. Robinson, W.A. Peters, and K. Trujillo-Nevárez. 1999. Plasmodium berghei and Plasmodium yoelii: molecular karyotypes of drug resistant lines. Experimental Parasitol. 91:93-96
  • Gervais, G., K. Trujillo-Nevárez, B.L. Robinson, W. A. Peters and A.E. Serrano. 1999. Plasmodium berghei: Identification of an mdr-like gene associated with drug resistance. Exp. Parasitol. 91:86-92.
  • Ramajo Martin, V., López Aban, J., A.E. Serrano, A. Oleaga Pérez and A. Muro Alvarez. 1996. A long term study on the prevalence of gastrointestinal, hepatic and pulmonary parasitism in sheep from Salamanca province, Western Spain. Research & Review in Parasitology. 56:173-177.
  • Ramajo Martin, V., López Aban, J., A.E. Serrano, A. Oleaga Pérez and A. Muro Alvarez. 1995. A long term study on the prevalence of gastrointestinal, hepatic and pulmonary parasitism in adult cattle from Salamanca province, Western Spain. Research & Review in Parasitology. 55:231-234.
  • Wirth, D.F., C. Wilson, A.E. Serrano, A. Wasley, M.P. Bogenschutz, and A.H. Shankar. 1990. Amplification of a gene related to mammalian MDR genes in drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. In Parasites: Molecular biology, drug and vaccine design. Wiley-Liss, Inc. 335-347.
  • Wilson, C.M., A.E. Serrano, A. Wasley, M.P. Bogenschutz, A. H. Shankar and D.F. Wirth. 1988. Amplification of a gene related to mammalian mdr genes in drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. Science 244:1185-1186.
  • Hillyer, G.V. and A.E. Serrano. 1986. Fractionation of Fasciola hepatica tegument antigens and their application to the serodiagnosis of experimental fascioliasis by the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. J. Helminth 60: 173-178.
  • Hillyer, G.V. and A.E. Serrano. 1983. The antigens of Paragonimus westermani, Schistosoma mansoni, and Fasciola hepatica adult worms. Evidence for the presence of cross-protection to Schistosoma mansoni infection using antigens of Paragonimus westermani. Am.J. Trop. Hyg. 32: 350-358.
  • Hillyer, G.V. and A.E. Serrano. 1982. Cross-protection in infections due to Schistosoma mansoni using tegument antigens of Fasciola hepatica. J. Infec. Dis. 145: 728-732.

Book Chapters

  • Anti-protozoan drugs. A. Muro, A.E. Serrano,and J.L. Pérez de Arellano. Chapter 22, pp. 331-343.
  • Anti-helminthic drugs. A. Muro, A.E. Serrano,and J.L. Pérez de Arellano. Chapter 23, pp. 345-353.