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C R Biol. 2004 Aug;327(8):711-20.

[Glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency: a protection against malaria and a risk for hemolytic accidents].

[Article in French]

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Inserm U468, hôpital Henri-Mondor 51, av. du Maréchal-de-Lattre-de-Tassigny, 94010 Créteil, France.


Glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) catalyses the first step of the pentose phosphate pathway, which in the RBC leads to the formation of NADPH, essential to prevent the cell from an oxidative stress. Worldwide, more than 400 million people (90% being males) are affected by G6PD deficiency, in regions that are, or have been, endemic for malaria and in populations originating from these regions. RBCs with low G6PD activity offer a hostile environment to parasite growth and thus an advantage to G6PD deficiency carriers. The counterpart of this protective effect is an increased susceptibility to oxidants such as some foods (fava beans), drugs (anti-malarial or sulphonamides), or various chemicals. In the case of G6PD deficiency, the hypothesis of a convergent evolution between parasite, protecting mutation, and cultural traditions (food, skin painting...) has been proposed. Near to 150 different G6PD variants have been described, which are classified into four types, according to their clinical effects. Several variants, such as the G6PD A- or the Mediterranean variant, reach the polymorphism level in endemic regions. The recent determination of the three-dimensional structure of this enzyme allows one to explain now the mechanisms of the disorders in terms of structure-function relationship.

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