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Hematology. 2006 Oct;11(5):389-98.

Duffy blood group and malaria.

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Department of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine, Santa Casa Medical School, São Paulo, Brazil.


Very important progress has been made over the last years in understanding the Duffy blood group system and its complexity. The Duffy blood group antigen serves not only as blood group antigen, but also as a receptor for a family of proinflammatory cytokines termed chemokines, and as a receptor for Plasmodium vivax malaria parasites. The Duffy antigen has been termed the "Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines" (DARC) or the Duffy chemokine receptor. DARC might play a role as a scanvenger on the red blood cell surface to eliminate excess of toxic chemokines produced in some pathologic situations [48]. Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) causes approximately between 70 and 80 million cases of malaria per year and is the most amply distributed human malaria in the world [51]. Individuals with the Duffy-negative phenotype are resistant to P. vivax invasion, and the molecular mechanism that gives rise to the phenotype Fy(a - b - ) in black individuals has been associated with a point mutation - 33TC expressed in homozigosity in the FYB allele [5]. Despite P. vivax be widespread throughout the tropical and subtropical world, it is absent from West Africa, where more than 95% of the population is Duffy negative. Recently, this point mutation has been described in heterozigosity in the FYA allele in others malaria endemic regions [7, 8], and until now we do not know if it confers a certain degree of protection against P. vivax infection.

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