Haemoglobin C and S in natural selection against Plasmodium falciparum malaria: a plethora or a single shared adaptive mechanism?
ABSTRACT Conclusive evidence exists on the protective role against clinical Plasmodium falciparum malaria of Haemoglobin S (beta 6Glu-->Val) and HbC (HbC; beta 6Glu-->Lys), both occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the mechanism/s of the protection exerted remain/s debated for both haemoglobin variants, HbC and HbS. Recently, an abnormal display of PfEMP1, an antigen involved in malaria pathogenesis, was reported on HbAC and HbCC infected erythrocytes that showed reduced cytoadhesion and impaired rosetting in vitro. On this basis it has been proposed that HbC protection might be attributed to the reduced PfEMP1-mediated adherence of parasitized erythrocytes in the microvasculature. Furthermore, impaired cytoadherence was observed in HbS carriers suggesting for the first time a convergence in the protection mechanism of these two haemoglobin variants. We investigated the impact of this hypothesis on the development of acquired immunity against P. falciparum variant surface antigens (VSA) encoding PfEMP1 in HbC and HbS carriers in comparison with HbA of Burkina Faso. Higher immune response against a VSA panel and several malaria antigens were observed in all adaptive genotypes containing at least one allelic variant HbC or HbS in the low transmission urban area whereas no differences were detected in the high transmission rural area. In both contexts the response against tetanus toxoid was not influenced by the beta-globin genotype. Thus, these findings suggest that both HbC and HbS affect the early development of naturally acquired immunity against malaria. We reviewed the hypothesized mechanisms so far proposed in light of these recent results.
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ABSTRACT: Most investigations into the antimalarial activity of African plants are centered on finding an indigenous equivalent to artemisinin, the compound from which current frontline antimalarial drugs are synthesized. As a consequence, the standard practice in ethnopharmacological research is to use in vitro assays to identify compounds that inhibit parasites at nanomolar concentrations. This approach fails to take into consideration the high probability of acquisition of resistance to parasiticidal compounds since parasite populations are placed under direct selection for genetic that confers a survival advantage. Bearing in mind Africa's long exposure to malaria and extensive ethnobotanical experimentation with both therapies and diet, it is more likely that compounds not readily overcome by Plasmodium parasites would have been retained in the pharmacopeia and cuisine. Such compounds are characterized by acting primarily on the host rather than directly targeting the parasite and thus cannot be adequately explored in vitro. If Africa's long history with malaria has in fact produced effective plant therapies, their scientific elucidation will require a major emphasis on in vivo investigation.TheScientificWorldJOURNAL 01/2012; 2012:978913. · 1.66 Impact Factor