Metabolism can impact host's susceptibility to develop malaria

Researchers from Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) Lisboa have found that the host's susceptibility to develop malaria depends on his or her metabolic state, which can be easily manipulated through external stimuli such as dietary patterns.

The progression and development of an infectious disease is directly dependent not only on the characteristics of the causing infectious agent but also on the genetic characteristics of the host, which also dictate the efficiency of the infection.

During the last years scientific discoveries have suggested that external factors independent of the host-parasite dichotomy, such as eating habits, can impact in the establishment, progression, and endpoint of infections.

The team, led by Maria Mota, manipulated the diet fed to lab mice for very short periods of time and evaluated the level of infection caused by the malaria parasite. The results, now published in the prestigious journal Nature Microbiology, show that an increase in the levels of pro-oxidants caused by dietary shifts leads to a 90% reduction in parasite load during the hepatic phase of the infection and consequently lowers the severity of the disease.

The mechanism used by the host to eliminate the malaria parasite, now revealed in this study, may contribute to explain how certain genetic alterations associate to high levels of oxidative stress, such as sickle-cell anemia or beta thalassemia, have been selected in the population due to their protective effect against malaria.



  1. Kumudini Sandesha Kumudini Sandesha Sri Lanka says:

    Sri Lanka has been declared malaria-free by the World Health Organisation in September 2016. However, imported cases are still a continuous threat to the country.
    Malaria is a mosquito borne parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Plasmodium. The mosquito that transmits this disease belongs to the genus Anopheles. Malaria is a potentially life-threatening disease that carries a poor prognosis with a high mortality if untreated, but it has an excellent prognosis if diagnosed early and treated appropriately.
    The disease is mostly a problem in developing countries with warm climates. Most malaria infections cause symptoms like the flu, such as a high fever, chills, and muscle pain. Symptoms tend to come and go in cycles. Some types of malaria may cause more serious problems, such as damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys, or brain. These types can be deadly.

  2. Naomi DeMel Naomi DeMel Sri Lanka says:

    Adult female Anopheles
    Anopheles is a genus of mosquito which is dominant to transmit malaria in humans. There are about 460 mosquito species identified. Only 30-40 species spread Malaria. Currently the main Mosquito habitats are tropical areas, but there can be malaria cases reported elsewhere. The mosquitoes go through four stages in their life cycles: egg, larva, pupa and imago.
    These mosquitoes transmit a protozoa parasite which brings out the disease in humans. Plasmodium vivax, plasmodium falciparum, plasmodium ovale and plasmodium malariae  are the common parasites of the disease out of  which plasmodium falciparum is the most dangerous.
    When it comes to control of the disease by transmitting the susceptibility of malaria vector to insecticides is an important factor.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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