What is a schizont?


A schizont is a malaria parasite which has matured and contains many merozoites, which are the parasite stage that infects red blood cells.

Schizonts can be produces during two separate phases of the life cycle within the human host: first in the hepatocytic cells in the liver (when sporozoites mature) during the exo-erythrocytic cycle and then within the red blood cells during the erythrocytic cycle (when trophozoites mature and divide).

When malaria parasites do not immediately mature into schizonts in the liver (as can be the case with Plasmodium vivax and P. ovale infections), the parasite instead becomes a hypnozoite, which can lay dormant in the liver for many weeks or even months (or, in rare case, years), and produce relapse of infection at a much later date.