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Journal of Tropical Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 940616, 17 pages
Review Article

The Host Genetic Diversity in Malaria Infection

1Laboratório Integrado de Microbiologia e Imunorregulação (LIMI), CPqGM, FIOCRUZ, Rua Waldemar Falcão 121, Candeal, 40296-710 Salvador, BA, Brazil
2Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade Federal da Bahia, 40296-710 Salvador, BA, Brazil
3Faculdade de Farmácia, Universidade Federal da Bahia, 40296-710 Salvador, BA, Brazil
4Instituto de Ciência e Tecnologia do Sangue, Campinas, SP, Brazil
5Instituto de Investigação em Imunologia, Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Received 13 August 2012; Revised 6 November 2012; Accepted 19 November 2012

Academic Editor: Christophe Chevillard

Copyright © 2012 Vitor R. R. de Mendonça et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Populations exposed to Plasmodium infection develop genetic mechanisms of protection against severe disease. The clinical manifestation of malaria results primarily from the lysis of infected erythrocytes and subsequent immune and inflammatory responses. Herein, we review the genetic alterations associated with erythrocytes or mediators of the immune system, which might influence malaria outcome. Moreover, polymorphisms in genes related to molecules involved in mechanisms of cytoadherence and their influence on malaria pathology are also discussed. The results of some studies have suggested that the combinatorial effects of a set of genetic factors in the erythrocyte-immunology pathway might be relevant to host resistance or susceptibility against Plasmodium infection. However, these results must be interpreted with caution because of the differences observed in the functionality and frequency of polymorphisms within different populations. With the recent advances in molecular biology techniques, more robust studies with reliable data have been reported, and the results of these studies have identified individual genetic factors for consideration in preventing severe disease and the individual response to treatment.