Sickle cell (SS) individuals fights malaria than other genotypes


Malaria is caused by plasmodium parasite..
It gets through humans through the bite of an infected Anopheles (female) mosquito.

Sickle cell disease provides resistance to individuals living in malaria endemic region.
Reasons:

  1. malaria parasite has a high rate use of oxygen and consumption..this parasite is also known to consume massive amount of hemoglobin for survival and replication.
    They use up oxygen being formed by the red blood cell to form their own metabolism.
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A sickle cell disease carrier has low oxygen tension in the red blood cell and the ss red blood cell tends to sickle under low oxygen tension..
The phagocyte (macrophage) destroys the sickle red blood cell thereby destroying the malaria parasite.

  1. Malaria parasite needs potassium ion to survive. The membrane of sickle cell is stretched by its unusual shape and becomes porous.(full of tiny pores and allows fliud to pass through) the sickle cell blood cell then lacks nutrients like potassium ion that the parasite needs to survive.
  2. The malaria parasite thrives on Hemoglobin to grow, but mutated hemoglobin leads to polymerization of hemoglobin that does not allow malaria parasite to ingest hemoglobin. Hence, malaria parasite is not able to complete its life cycle.

Nelly Jonas

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