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Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 1979 Aug;73(4):301-10.

Abnormal haemoglobins in the Sudan savanna of Nigeria. III. Malaria, immunoglobulins and antimalarial antibodies in sickle cell disease.


Subjects with sickle cell disease were identified in (i) a whole population sample (2742) Garki District, Kano State, Nigeria, and in (ii) the 534 infants born into the population during five years. Eleven (2.1%) newborn had Hb.SS, as was expected from gene frequency (0.146). Prevalence was maintained in the first year of life, but fell to 0.4% at one to four years and to 0.05% (one person) over the age of nine years. Antimalarial intervention for two transmission seasons was followed by an apparent but not significant decrease in Hb.SS mortality. There was one male aged about 40 years who had Hb.SC (the expected number was three). Hb.SS children were compared to normal subjects at the same age, the same village and the same survey; they had significantly less than the expected Plasmodium malariae infection (P less than 0.01) and lower than median P. falciparum densities while below five years (P less than 0.05). Over one year of age, they tended to have below average indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) (P less than 0.01), indirect haemagglutinating antibody (IHA) (P less than 0.01) titres and number of precipitin rings (not significant) against P. falciparum antigen, and IFA against P malariae (P less than 0.01). They had above average IgM (P less than 0.05), but their IgG concentrations did not differ from normal. We conclude that (i) sickling is sufficient to protect against P. malariae in Hb.SS but not Hb.AS; (ii) sickling prevents intense P. falciparum infection in Hb.SS, as in Hb.AS; (iii) in Hb.SS, there is less antigenic stimulus and hence less antibody against P. falciparum (like Hb.AS) and P. malariae (unlike Hb.AS); (iv) although less intense, malaria is frequently fatal in Hb.SS, especially in age-group one to four years (unlike Hb.AS); (v) IgM levels are high in Hb.SS in response to frequent infections other than malaria (unlike Hb.AS).

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