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J Infect Dis. 2003 Jul 15;188(2):297-304. Epub 2003 Jul 1.

Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate levels associated with decreased malaria parasite density and increased hemoglobin concentration in pubertal girls from western Kenya.

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1
Centre for Vector Biology and Control Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kisumu, Kenya.

Abstract

In areas where Plasmodium falciparum malaria is endemic, parasite density, morbidity, and mortality decrease with increasing age, which supports the view that years of cumulative exposure are necessary for the expression of maximal protective immunity. Developmental changes in the host also have been implicated in the expression of maximal resistance. To further evaluate the contribution of host developmental factors in malaria resistance, we examined the relationship between P. falciparum parasitemia and pubertal development in a cross-sectional sample of 12-18-year-old schoolgirls from an area of intense transmission in western Kenya. Among pubertal girls, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels were significantly associated with decreased parasite density, even after adjustment for age. DHEAS levels also were related to increased hemoglobin levels, even after accounting for age and other determinants of hemoglobin level. These findings support the hypothesis that host pubertal development, independent of age and, by proxy, cumulative exposure, is necessary for maximal expression of resistance to malarial infection and morbidity, as assessed by hemoglobin level.

PMID:
12854087
DOI:
10.1086/376508
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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