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Minimal Association of Common Red Blood Cell Polymorphisms with Plasmodium falciparum Infection and Uncomplicated Malaria in Papua New Guinean School Children

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  • Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Papua, New Guinea; Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Infection and Immunity Division, Royal Parade, Parkville, Australia; Center for Global Health and Diseases, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

Southeast Asian ovalocytosis (SAO), α+-thalassemia, and low expression of complement receptor 1 (CR1) have been associated with protection against severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria. In a cohort of children 5–14 years of age the effect of α+-thalassemia, SAO (SLC4A1Δ27), CR1 polymorphisms, and Gerbich negativity (GYPCΔex3) on risk of P. falciparum infections and uncomplicated illness were evaluated. The risk of acquiring polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-diagnosed P. falciparum infections was significantly lower for α+-thalassemia heterozygotes (hazard ratio [HR]: 0.56) and homozygotes (HR: 0.51) than wild-type children. No such differences were seen in light of microscopy diagnosed infections (P = 0.71) or were α+-thalassemia genotypes associated with a reduced risk of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria. No significant associations between the risk of P. falciparum infection or illness were observed for any of the other red blood cell polymorphisms (P > 0.2). This suggests that these polymorphisms are not associated with significant protection against P. falciparum blood-stage infection or uncomplicated malaria in school-aged children.

Author Notes

*Address correspondence to Ivo Mueller, Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, P.O. Box 60, Goroka, EHP 441, Papua, New Guinea. E-mail: ivomueller@fastmail.fm

Financial support: The study was, in part, supported by Merit Award from Veterans Affairs Research Service and by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

Authors' addresses: Enmoore Lin, Livingstone Tavul, Pascal Michon, Elijah Dabod, and Ivo Mueller, Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Papua, New Guinea, E-mails: enmoorelin@yahoo.com, ltterhua1@gmail.com, michon.pascal@gmail.com, suparatp@hotmail.com, and ivomueller@fastmail.fm. Jack S. Richards and James G. Beeson, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Infection and Immunity Division, Royal Parade, Parkville, Australia, E-mails: richards@wehi.edu.au and beeson@wehi.edu.au. Christopher L. King and Peter A. Zimmerman, Center for Global Health and Diseases, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, E-mails: christopher.king@case.edu and peter.zimmerman@case.edu.

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