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Keywords:

  • coevolution;
  • human leukocyte antigen;
  • Plasmodium;
  • polygenic;
  • polymorphism;
  • tumor necrosis factor

The genetic basis of susceptibility to malaria has been studied extensively using a variety of approaches. The protective role of several erythrocytic variants is now well established. More recently, there has been growing evidence that genes determining a variety of immune responses influence susceptibility to malaria. Some of these genes may specifically affect susceptibility to particular strains of malaria parasite. The recent adoption of genetic linkage approaches supplements the established strategy of assessing candidate gene polymorphisms in case-control studies. Immunogenetic associations with severe malaria have already suggested new approaches for intervention, and the highly polygenic nature of susceptibility to this disease suggests that the identification and analysis of new susceptibility and resistance loci should be worthwhile.