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A 37-year-old member asked:

I'm wondering why are carriers for sickle cell anemia resistant to malaria?

4 doctor answers11 doctors weighed in
Dr. Liawaty Ho
Hematology and Oncology 24 years experience
Sickle and malaria: Patients with sickle cell disease are protected against severe and complicated malaria infection- by 2 mechanism: -1. Cells infected with malaria parasites had accelerated sickling compared with non-infected cells- and as the result the cell would be destroyed/ promoting removal of infected cells from the circulation `2.Impaired parasite growth due to reduce o2 content in sickle cell.
Dr. Michael Engel
Pediatric Hematology and Oncology 21 years experience
Extremely complex...: This is a fascinating molecular mechanistic story, but too complex for this forum. Suffice it to say that the presence of the sickle beta chain creates an inhospitable environment for the organisms that cause malaria, plasmodium falciparum and vivax. This advantage must be balanced with the disadvantage of too much hgbs. Historically, survival to reproductive age was rare, but trait is tolerated.
Dr. Heidi Fowler
Psychiatry 26 years experience
Malaria/sickle cell: In a person who has sickle-cell trait, the red blood cells are destroyed prematurely before the Plamodium can reproduce. According to one study “Sickle cell trait provides 60% protection against overall mortality. Most of this protection occurs between 2-16 months of life, before the onset of clinical immunity in areas with intense transmission of malaria.”
Dr. Roy Arnold
Internal Medicine 48 years experience
Hgb S inhibits: Parasite growth in two ways. Increased sickling causes more rapid removal of infested red blood cells (suicide effect) and low oxygen in Hgb S RBC actually kills parasite. Thanks for trusting HealthTap!

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Similar questions

A 44-year-old member asked:

Why are people who are heterozygous for sickle cell anemia more resistant to malaria?

1 doctor answer4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Heidi Fowler
Psychiatry 26 years experience
Malaria: In a person who has sickle-cell trait – the red blood cells are destroyed prematurely before the Plamodium can reproduce. Sickle Cell Trait can provide a protective advantage against P. Falciparum. According to one study “Sickle cell trait provides 60% protection against overall mortality. Most of this protection occurs between 2-16 months of life, before the onset of clinical immunity in areas >
Dr. Heidi Fowler
Psychiatry 26 years experience
Provided original answer
with intense transmission of malaria.” See: http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/biology/sickle_cell.html
Nov 9, 2014
A 39-year-old member asked:

Can you please tell me why it'sthat only carriers of sickle cell anemia are immune to malaria?

2 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Steven Ginsberg
Internal Medicine - Hematology & Oncology 38 years experience
Both carriers and : People with the disease are protected (not immune). People with trait historically were more likely to survive into adulthood to pass along the sickle cell gene. People with ss hemglobin, until recently, were not likely to survive into adulthood to have children.
A 30-year-old member asked:

Is sickle cell anemia prevalent where malaria doesn't exist?

1 doctor answer5 doctors weighed in
Dr. Joseph Torkildson
Pediatric Hematology and Oncology 40 years experience
Only here in the US: If you compare a MAP of malaria prevalence (number of cases) to a MAP of sickle cell disease prevalence, they are almost super-imposable with one exception; the United States. The prevalence of sickle cell anemia in the us is as high as some african countries with lower malaria frequencies, but our only malaria comes from travelers.
A 41-year-old member asked:

What causes sickle cell anemia besides malaria?

2 doctor answers6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Michael Benjamin
Hematology and Oncology 24 years experience
Malaria doesnt cause: Sickle cell anemia is a hereditary disease caused by a mutation in the dna coding for hemoglobin. Scientists have long known that sickle cell anemia protects carriers from malaria infections, which could be advantageous in certain parts of the world. Malaria does not cause sickle cell anemia.
A 43-year-old member asked:

Could carriers of sickle cell anemia develop symptoms.?

1 doctor answer1 doctor weighed in
Dr. Scott Diede
A Verified Doctoranswered
30 years experience
Sickle cell trait: Sickle trait means one copy of hemoglobin carries the mutation for sickle cell disease and the other copy is unaffected. Most people with sickle trait are unaffected by this. For athletes with sickle trait, it is essential to keep well hydrated. See http://www.Cdc.Gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/traits.Html for good recommendations.
Last updated Mar 23, 2017
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