Human red blood cell polymorphisms and malaria

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2006 Aug;9(4):388-94. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2006.06.009. Epub 2006 Jul 3.


Genetic factors are a major determinant of child survival in malaria endemic countries. Identifying which genes are involved and how they affect the malaria disease risk potentially offers a powerful mechanism through which to learn more about the host-parasite relationship. The past few years have seen significant progress towards achieving this goal for some of the best-known malaria resistance genes that determine the structure or function of red blood cells: Gerbich blood group antigen negativity; polymorphisms of the complement receptor genes (most notably CR1); Southeast Asian ovalocytosis; pyruvate kinase deficiency; haemoglobin E; the sickle cell trait; and alpha-thalassaemia are all examples. The challenge for the future must be to translate such advances into fresh approaches to the prevention and treatment of malaria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anion Exchange Protein 1, Erythrocyte / genetics
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology*
  • Hemoglobin E / physiology
  • Hemoglobin, Sickle / physiology
  • Hemoglobinopathies / genetics
  • Humans
  • Malaria / genetics*
  • Malaria / prevention & control*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Receptors, Complement 3b / genetics
  • Thalassemia / genetics
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / genetics


  • Anion Exchange Protein 1, Erythrocyte
  • Hemoglobin, Sickle
  • Receptors, Complement 3b
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • glycoprotein gC, herpes simplex virus type 1
  • Hemoglobin E