Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficient Red Cells: Resistance to Infection by Malarial Parasites

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Science  16 May 1969:
Vol. 164, Issue 3881, pp. 839-842
DOI: 10.1126/science.164.3881.839


Erythrocyte mosaicism occurs in females heterozygous for glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. In blood from female children with acute Plasmodium falciparum malaria the parasite rate was 2 to 80 times higher in normal than in deficient erythrocytes. This may be the mechanism whereby the gene for glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency confers selective advantage against malaria to heterozygous females, and thus may have attained the polymorphic frequency occurring in populations living in areas with endemic malaria.