Effect of red blood cell variants on childhood malaria in Mali: a prospective cohort study.
BACKGROUND: Red blood cell variants protect African children from severe falciparum malaria. However, their individual and interactive effects on mild disease and parasite density, and their modification by age-dependent immunity, are poorly understood. In this study, we address these knowledge gaps in a prospective cohort study of malaria risk and Plasmodium falciparum densities in Malian children. METHODS: The Kenieroba Innate Defense Study for Malaria (KIDS-Malaria) was a 4-year prospective cohort study of children aged 6 months to 17 years undertaken in Mali between 2008 and 2011. Red blood cell variants were haemoglobin S (HbS), haemoglobin C (HbC), α thalassaemia, ABO blood groups, and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency encoded by the X-linked A- allele. The primary outcome was malaria incidence, measured as the number of uncomplicated or severe malaria episodes over time. The secondary outcome was parasite density at the time of a malaria episode. We modelled incidence rate ratios with quasi-Poisson regression and we analysed parasite densities using generalised estimating equations. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00669084. FINDINGS: Between May 1, 2008, and Dec 29, 2011, we enrolled 1586 children into the study. We successfully typed all five red blood cell variants for 1543 of these children, who therefore constituted the evaluable population and in whom we diagnosed 4091 malaria episodes over 2656 child-years of follow-up. In these 1543 children, red blood cell variants were common, and occurred at the following frequencies: sickle cell trait (HbAS) 220 (14%), HbC heterozygosity (HbAC) 103 (7%), α thalassaemia 438 (28%), type O blood group 621 (40%), and G6PD deficiency 72 (9%) in 767 boys and 158 (20%) in 776 girls. The overall incidence of malaria was 1.54 episodes per child-year of follow-up, ranging from 2.78 episodes per child-year at age 3 years to 0.40 episodes per child-year at age 17 years. The malaria incidence was lower in HbAS children than in HbAA children with normal haemoglobin (adjusted incidence rate ratio [aIRR] 0.66 [95% CI 0.59-0.75], p<0.0001) and lower in G6PD A-/A- homozygous girls than in G6PD A+/A+ girls (0.51 [0.29-0.90], p=0.020), but was higher in HbAC children than in HbAA children (1.15 [1.01-1.32], p=0.039). Parasite density was lower in HbAS children (median 10,550 parasites per μL [IQR 1350-26,250]) than in HbAA children (15,150 parasites per μL [4250-31,050]; p=0.0004). The HbAS-associated reductions in malaria risk and parasite density were greatest in early childhood. INTERPRETATION: The individual and interactive effects of HbAS, HbAC, and G6PD A-/A- genotypes on malaria risk and parasite density define clinical and cellular correlates of protection. Further identification of the molecular mechanisms of these protective effects might uncover new targets for intervention. FUNDING: Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
Lopera-Mesa, TM; Doumbia, S; Konaté, D; Anderson, JM; Doumbouya, M; Keita, AS; Diakité, SAS; Traoré, K; Krause, MA; Diouf, A; Moretz, SE; Tullo, GS; Miura, K; Gu, W; Fay, MP; Taylor, SM; Long, CA; Diakité, M; Fairhurst, RM
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